What business are you in?

Young Business Team at a meeting at modern office building

In 1987, a coffee shop with about 10 stores had a dream of growing their business to a national level. They also wanted to be known for their values and culture just as much as their coffee. 

Jump to 1990, the company started to see growth with about 50 stores but they still weren’t making any money. The company realized that they were not in the coffee business, serving people. They were in the people business, serving coffee. They realized they needed to exceed the expectations of their people, to exceed the expectations of their customers. This company, of course, was Starbucks.


Losing focus on people – the employees and the customers – often marks the beginning of the end of an enterprise. There have been many well-performing big businesses that have been derailed the moment they put the people in the back seat. 

If you are aspiring to build a great and lasting business, take some time to look at things from different perspectives. Looking through someone else’s viewpoint will put more focus on the people surrounding your business. Focusing on profits and other aspects of your business is important, of course. However, you cannot disregard the person behind each and every cog in this machine called your business. After all, you’re all pushing towards the same goal: To provide a great solution for your customers.

Now how do we achieve this sense of perspective? Easy! Communicate. Talk to your team members, talk to your customers, and ask questions. Let them see you as a partner, a person who has a real interest in them, and would like to see them grow. A leader, not a business operator. The best business owners that I’ve been lucky enough to connect with are always leading the team while trusting their team members to operate as the business moves forward.

“People will never go out of business”

Regardless of the type of business, people (both your team and your customers) should be at the center of it all. How you treat them determines the future of your business. Treat them with respect. Show them that you value their ideas. Make them realize that they are the most important aspect of your business and they will become raving fans working together to help you push toward your goals. Create a culture while sustainably building a process that ensures growth. Provide an experience that will differentiate yourself as a successful business, not a  struggling company.

Yes! Embrace the charts and analytics, optimize your operations, and improve your sales strategy. Leverage the capabilities of technology to improve your business. But always remember that your customers and your employees are people. And as Michael Scott once said, “People will never go out of business.”