Sunday, May 22, 2016
Lean FROyO Part 5: Why Are You in Business?
The one question I ask where I get the most blank stares is "why are you in business?" Usually there is 3.9 seconds of dead silence, followed by "to make money knucklehead". (The don't usually say the word knucklehead, but I can read it on their faces).
That's usually where I jump into my patented speech about how money cannot be your reason for being. If money is why you are in business or why you go to work every day, you'll never be happy. Money is the scoreboard, do what you do well and the money takes care of itself.
The first of the 4 principles of the Toyota Production System is to base your management decisions on a long term philosophy, even at the expense f short term financial goals. What is your purpose? How does your business serve humanity? Your community? This focus is applicable whether you are a multi billion dollar enterprise like Toyota, or a frozen yogurt shop in Windsor, CT.
My wife of 30 years, Gloria, decided she wanted to own and manage a frozen yogurt shop in 2011. Her store opened in 2014. The purpose of Menchies Frozen Yogurt, in writing, on the website, is "we make you smile".
Why is she in business? To sell self serve frozen yogurt and make money, right? Nope.
Gloria overcame a learning disability as a 2nd grader, where she actually had to repeat a grade. She struggled to read. Long story short, with intervention and determination, she graduated everything, including a degree in social work with a 3.6 cumulative average. She devours books and has raised 3 very good students.
Over the past 2 years, Gloria has reached out to all of the elementary schools in the Windsor area on behalf of her business to somehow help incentivize kids to read. And read . And read. She made bookmarks where the kids, with the help of their teachers and parents, keep track of how many hours they read. For every ten hours of reading, the child hands in their bookmark for a free cup of yummy Froyo. This school year, Gloria gave away over 600 cups of frozen yogurt with any toppings the kids want. She goes to schools, along with the mascot for her store (Menchie) and reads to the class.
Why are you in business? The walls in her shop are full of thank you notes and homemade posters with pictures drawn by the kids letting her know how much they appreciate her. Her sales, by the way, have increased 40% each year, in a market where way more Froyo shops are going out than coming in.
So why are you in business? How does what you do contribute to society? How do you use your business as a vehicle to make people smile?