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Business Times Column

by Marcus

Are You An Inspiration Within Your Business?

There is a distinct difference in the atmosphere of companies where the owner and managers bring their inspiring energy on a consistent basis and those where this does not happen. It is a feeling that is known by both team members and customers alike, and one that will ultimately have a positive or negative effect on your bottom line.

I recently returned from a vacation in which I spent considerable time in the city of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. It has long been a favorite place for me to visit and has a coffee shop downtown, close to the lake, called Java on Sherman. I have spent many hours as a customer in this establishment over the past 15 years, and have always felt great being there.

This time my experience was very different. From the moment I walked in, this place I have always enjoyed felt “empty” to me. There was a lack of energy and the team members were not smiling or happily greeting customers. Furthermore, once I received the items I had ordered, it was absolutely apparent that the quality of the products I had come to appreciate – coffee, pastries, and breakfast – were not at the high standard they had always been.

Java is the only place I have ever started my days in Coeur d’ Alene, simply because of the exceptional experience, quality products and the great feeling I received. I did return to Java several times over the 11 days I was in town in hopes that the feelings I knew before would return again. When they didn’t, for the first time, I also started searching out other businesses to start my day with. The point here is that since my last visit – only one year ago – the experience had deteriorated so much, I was no longer getting the value I was looking for and, since doing business there did not feel good anymore, I was willing to take my business elsewhere.

Lost patronage, and the lack of new customers, is the cost of not providing an inspired workplace, and this starts with the business owner.

Last year I spent considerable time conversing with the owner of Java. This man shared with me the story of how he came to own the business through his love for the town, coffee and people. He could be seen in the coffee shop on a daily basis, sometimes talking to and visiting with customers and at other times working behind the counter with his team. He always exuded a great energy that was contagious, as did his team members.

This year he was visibly absent. I hardly saw him, and when I did, he did not appear to be happy. To the astute observer, with a trained eye, it is obvious why the atmosphere in Java had deteriorated so dramatically. You see, as the business owner, you are the fountain head of the energy within your company. The owner of Java no longer had positive energy – he was not happy – and that was having a devastating effect on the entire team.

I have always shared with my clients the truth that they are not selling products and services. What they are, in fact, selling is an “experience”. While it is true that your products and services are part an overall customer experience, it is the feeling people get – and take away with them – when they do business with you that matters most. The experience that you and your team provide will either turn customers on or off to you, even after 15 years of loyal patronage.

An unhappy business owner lacks the positive energy, clarity of vision, engagement and inspiration to create a truly successful business – one where everyone benefits from the wonderful experience it provides. Owners in this position do not attract or hire the best people; they do not train and treat team members in ways that inspire them to give their very best to the customers that give life to the business.

Whether a business owner’s unhappiness comes from discomfort in the business itself, from their personal life or both does not matter. What does matter is that unhappy business owners seek professional assistance in overcoming what stands between them and the happiness and success they want to experience. With happiness at the foundation of who you are, you will be a powerfully inspiring force within your business.

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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper.

Access the article here.