Don’t Tell Me It’s Just Business

‘It’s just business’ – it’s a phrase we hear all the time. In the workplace, on TV, in the movies: ‘Just business’ is usually preceded by the phrase ‘It’s nothing personal’ and is usually followed by some form of apology or condolence, because when you tell someone ‘it’s just business’ you usually aren’t dealing on the best of terms.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of business being just that, business. Can you ever engage in business practices and negotiations without having some sort of emotional or ‘human’ attachment? Is the corporate world really that cold and disconnected from consumers? There is a difference between getting what you need, and getting what you need without reservations. In the real world, success is measured by results – without results, how would we know whether a business or organization was successful? Well, we wouldn’t. But is it ALL about results?

In my (limited) experience in the workforce, I have recognized two generalized ‘types’ of business-philosophy:

Philosophy A – Result Driven: This is the type of person who can maintain, embrace, and thrive with the ‘just business’ mindset. Get the job done, produce outstanding results, report success to clients and partners with clear objective numbers, figures, etc. When dealing with vendors, clients, and other partners – this type of person is primarily focused on getting the job done, no matter what, wanting everything for (essentially) nothing. Maintaining well-rounded ‘give and take’ business relationships/partnerships takes a back seat to doing what has to be done. Results and successes may be great, profits will be clearly defined, even if relationships are damaged and reputation is tarnished.

Philosophy B – Relationship Driven: This person focuses on business relationships. Forming valuable and long lasting relationships, and once they have established partnerships making an above-and-beyond effort to maintaining and nurturing them. This person has a win-win mindset, wanting to do what is best for both parties as much as possible. When an issue arises, this person leans toward the side of compromise, giving constructive criticism and valuable feedback rather than making demands and ultimatums. Typically, this person embraces a more entrepreneurial mindset, and focuses on establishing and preserving lasting connections to their clients, partners, and overall audience.

What philosophy do you find yourself relating with? I have labeled these two philosophies as extreme polar opposites, and I do think there can be a happy marriage between the two. Personally, I believe there must be a balance in order to organize and run a successful long-term business. I have trouble buying in to the ‘just business’ mindset– there has to be some incorporation of both of these philosophies for me (personally) to remain sane, it’s just my human nature. Something to ponder: When you look around at businesses that have been successful through the test of time, these major corporations and conglomerates, they may very well lean more toward Philosophy A – but think about a company or organization that you truly respect. How is it run? Think about the connection you have with that company. Most likely – it’s a business that has taken the time to connect and form an attachment with its partners, audience, and consumers, even if growth and success is achieved at a much slower rate.

This isn’t meant to come across as a jab to ‘Corporate America’. This is not me shouting out, “Damn the Man!” I realize these larger corporations are absolutely essential to a successful economic environment. And I understand that some embrace and thrive in that environment. Looking back at the issue of work-life balance, many are more than comfortable having a clear distinction between their personal and professional lives, and have no problem detaching themselves emotionally from daily business interactions. Others cannot help but integrate the two into one, at least on some level. Again, it comes down to a core philosophy, both on a personal and professional level. And while one can be molded or trained to act a certain way, an individuals own belief system typically is unflappable.

We are observing a clear shift within the Gen-Y community toward a more entrepreneurial way of thinking – and we are seeing this philosophy shift result in small business’s thriving, while large corporations are continuing to drop deeper into the red. Why are these entrepreneurs and small businesses successful? It’s comes down to a simple scientific business formula:

CwC (Connect with Consumers) + RtB (Give them Reason to Buy) = $$$ (Lots of Money)

Companies that are able to connect with their consumers and provide them with reasons to support and buy will be successful. This formula holds true across virtually every business and media platform (more on that in a future post). In the infamous words of John Lennon, ‘All you need is love, love is all you need’. Businesses that take the time to ‘show the love’ to their staff, their business partners, and their consumer audience are thriving, and will continue to thrive, even in a less-than-stellar economy.