When thinking about your business, what is your biggest concern? Could it be the Benjamins? You have bills, salaries and taxes all nagging at you. You may have loans, rent and mouths to feed. More than that, you’d like to actually turn a profit. You need money coming in to cover these things - but you shouldn’t be just trying to make money.
You know when someone is just trying to make money. At an office complex that I recently worked in, there was a little cafe. This cafe had the ultimate business owner’s dream - an almost complete monopoly of busy, working professional customers, able and willing to pay for value. All you had to do was count the Mercedes in the parking garage to know this. There were no other restaurants in walking distance, not even a decent vending machine. Additionally, there were three large office buildings in the complex, with one more being built.
On my first day, the girl showing me around the office was informing me of good places to eat lunch and after listing her favorite restaurants, she said something like, “If you’re in a hurry, there is a little cafe across the courtyard - it’s okay.” I had overheard people complaining a few times when all they had time for was to grab lunch from the cafe, instead of driving to somewhere better. Inevitably, the day came when I had to work through lunch and had a few minutes to grab something, so I walked to the cafe. I soon knew why this place was “okay.” The decor was a seemingly cheap hodgepodge and the food was overpriced, at best. The people at the counter were friendly enough and served me quickly, but I got a common lunch meat sandwich with a bag of chips. Every part of it felt so cheap and I felt cheated out of money. I certainly didn't feel like I got what I paid for. There was a lack of menu direction, vision and not a discernible note of passion behind the food. I think this place probably pulls mediocre, consistent revenues each month (because again, there isn’t even a vending machine around), but I think their only goal is to make money. It doesn’t seem like anyone feels good about the meal they get and I think even the staff is a little embarrassed to serve the mostly pre-made food. Now, if this place had vision, direction, cohesive decor, designed sandwiches and upped product quality (and even the prices if needed), I have no doubt that they would have lines out the door daily. As it is, there is rarely a line of more than a few people during lunch.
You’re discerning, you can feel when a business is just trying to make money -- customers are treated as cattle to move through, employees are treated like cogs in a machine and products are made as cheaply as possible.
It's hard to sleep well at night when you're making money off of something you're not proud of. You sleep better when you know that the value you provide improves lives - your customers’, your employees’ and your own. You should be paid for the value you offer, but your goal shouldn't be to make money. It should be to provide the best value possible. You should charge accordingly, but if the value isn’t there - please, go back into the kitchen and figure it out. You don't have to go one more day not feeling proud to put your name on what you're offering.
Let the National Treasury make money. You focus on creating value worth paying for.