Building a successful business in these ever-changing times might be more of an innovative process than it used to be a few short years ago.Following established business models; once the standard for building new businesses, is not always the best course of action. Today, it may take more creativity, drive, passion and endurance to build a highly profitable company than ever before. The door has swung wide open and building your business while staying true to your core beliefs can be your highway to success.
I just finished reading Tony Hsieh's book Delivering Happiness -- A Path To Profits, Passion, And Purpose. Tony is the CEO of Zappos.com. He helped grow the Company from almost nothing to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. Change is one of the core values of Zappos: "Embrace and Drive Change."
Tony put all his eggs into the Zappos basket while remaining true to his core beliefs. Instead of launching a huge advertising and marketing campaign; he invested all his money and time in three areas: customer service, the 'culture' of the company, and employee training and development. He literally built the Zappos brand by offering a "WOW experience."
"To live and deliver 'WOW'" was the Zappos mission. Tony's belief is that "WOW" means you have to be innovative and sometimes even unconventional. Go above and beyond what's expected. In 2009 Tony expanded the Zappos mission: "Zappos is about delivering happiness to the world." "Whatever you do, have an emotional impact on the receiver."
He knows his thinking is way outside the box. "There's a lot of buzz these days about 'social media' and 'integration marketing,'" he says in Delivering Happiness. "As unsexy and low-tech as it may sound, our belief is that the telephone is one of the best branding devices out there. You have the customer's undivided attention for five to ten minutes, and if you get the interaction right, what we've found is that the customer remembers the experience for a very long time and tells his or her friends about it".
Friendship will always lead you to something good. Tony says, "The more diverse your set of friends, the more likely you'll derive both personal and business benefits from friendships down the road". And what better way to connect with people than by being yourself and having one-on-one conversations with real people?
Reach beyond your 140 character status updates on Twitter and Facebook and pick up the phone. Make real connections with an open mind and with no agenda. You never know where or how you'll be led to an opportunity. I reached out to one of my Facebook friends, had a chat, met for coffee, and she led me here: to writing my blog on The Huffington Post.
Bart Greenhut and his wife, the founders of Bart's Bakery in Los Angeles, like Tony, are passionate about their mission and product: chocolate chip cookies. They are another example of a successful business built on a foundation of passion and integrity. According to Bart, "This venture is not about money--if a great cookie makes you smile, then in my small way, I've made the world a better place!" You don't hear that every day.
Their core belief is, "We strictly limit distribution & focus only on our quality & customers (you)... our mission is simple: to preserve a place in the world for untainted ideals, uncompromised quality, and the propagation of happiness."
Read the not so fine print on each of their cookie boxes : "Note: You will never see these cookies in any store that charges 'slotting' ... We believe that slotting fees cause the demise of many great products. We support only quality stores that respect the American virtue of fair competition!"
When a giant consumer products company offered to acquire Bart's Bakery, the Greenhuts walked away from the deal because it would have meant compromising the integrity of their product. The corporation told Bart that they would eventually put him out of business. Bart's Bakery embraced change, got creative and started private labeling.
Through their "Cookie Donation Program," Bart's Bakery sent cookies to Second Harvest Food Bank, for volunteers in the Louisiana Gulf Coast clean up. Their goal was to "help people smile during difficult times." A lot of hard working people enjoyed those delicious cookies. The unexpected bonus for Bart's was a Christmas order for 4000 boxes.
The Greenhuts and Tony Hsieh not only embrace change, they drive change. They lead by example, proof that you can build a successful company, large or small, grounded by your beliefs, your passions, and your integrity.
These are great times to make your way the highway to success!