We live in a society where large corporations hold a lot of power. It can feel as though these are inhuman, grotesque machines manipulating the way we live and eat and work. Even if we don’t believe that ‘corporations rule the world’, we can still see the massive impact that big businesses have had on our society.
Large corporations are powerful because we believe we need them. This is a great danger because they are not always motivated at their roots by benevolence, rather by greed and selfishness. In many cases as we see, corporations make choices to benefit themselves that come at a great cost to others, and they are empowered to do so because of our dependency upon them.
I’m not advocating any kind of action against large corporations. But there are things to be learned and applied to how we do things on a personal level. As people considering, planning, building or running our own personal small businesses, we have control over how our own businesses begin (although we may or may not be able to say how they will end). We can set into place a culture and framework within our businesses that shapes how they will continue.
The same personal values we live by every day should shape everything we do. This includes the way we do our work and the foundation upon which we build, grow and run our businesses.
What are your personal values? Do you value hard work, honesty, forthrightness, helping others? This should extend to the work you do, and guide your choices every day.
Being an entrepreneur or a visionary requires the ability to see a problem and devise a solution, but there is a missing element from this equation if we want truly constructive answers. What guidelines are creating the solution? What is the motivation driving it? Understanding our own motivations makes the difference between solutions that are wholly beneficial and lasting, and solutions that are superficial, temporary or perhaps even damaging. Are we directed by profit seeking, greed, and money lust? Or are we driven by a heart of helpfulness and a desire to benefit our fellow man in a lasting and meaningful way?
- What happens if we approach our businesses from a motivation of genuine helpfulness?
- What happens when we’re motivated to add our efforts to a collective attempt to make things better for all of us?
- What if the motivation is helping other humans, rather than creating solutions without regard to their cost?
- What happens if we shift our focus from self gratification and self interest to helping other people?
We need to be aware of what it really means to help. We can certainly eliminate some very unhelpful behaviours at the outset, such as creating goods that we know are poor quality, excessively wasteful or likely to harm the health or wellbeing of others. We can ensure that what we offer lives up to expectations and does what we say it will do.
To really help we need to be provide solutions that are consistent with our values and what we understand to be true. When we begin to be motivated by truly helping others rather than maximising profits, we are motivated to create real, quality, considered, measured, lasting solutions rather than temporary, throwaway, hastily made solutions that often tend to create their own problems.
Many of the business coaches I have observed appeal to personal gratification and greed as motivators. ‘Do you want to be rich and live in a huge mansion like me? Then like my page and buy this 10-page ebook.’ This is an attempt to maintain and capitalise upon the status quo of our consumer-minded culture and our collectively misled understanding of what will make us happy. It may in fact be a roadmap to dissatisfaction and unhappiness, if the motivation even sticks. For many people, the mere possibility of financial reward is not enough to keep them going through all of the many trials of building up a business.
There is actually evidence to support the idea that business which is driven by genuine desire to help others, rather than for mere selfish or ego-driven motivations, actually tends to create success. It makes sense since people intuitively seem to know when others are trying to take advantage of them.
Being motivated by an honest desire to help others means that you’re concerned with what is best for them. You’re not merely posturing and trying to convince them into believing that they need what you’re offering, regardless of what their actual needs are. People sense this genuineness, which builds trust, and trust is vital when it comes to building strong business relationships.
A desire to help others and live in alignment with your value system is also a much stronger motivation for most people than that of greedy or materialistic intentions. It is easy to give up when the only reward you’re looking for is something that you know you don’t really want deep down. When you’re motivated by the things that really move you, the things you’re truly passionate about, you are much more likely to continue working towards those things longterm.
As we already recognised above, businesses can affect social change and hold great power in our society. We may not have control over a large corporation, but we can certainly shape and build our own businesses with a culture of integrity and a motivation of helpfulness. The cumulative effect of many normal small business folks taking this type of action can create an impact. This may come at a cost to us, but the payoff is much larger and further-reaching in terms of personal satisfaction and creating a better world to live in.