Someone sent me an article about a company that purposely made some decisions they knew would make them less profitable. The goal was to impact the environment in a more sustainable way, and the author wrote about the various ways to define success. The person who sent me the article asked what I thought and if we ever did anything like that when I owned a business. (I was the owner of a business for more than 20 years and am now a shareholder in a much larger business we merged into.)

I explained I’ve never been involved with a product that would have an environmental impact, but I took the opportunity to spell out two of my guiding business credos.

Our success has always come from:

  1. Putting the interests of our customers first. If we made less money because a given action was the right thing for the customer, besides being the right thing to do, we knew in the long term we would be more successful because of repeat business and referrals.
  2. Having happy employees. Happy employees make for better employees, and better employees make happier customers, which leads back to number 1, above.

I also explained I have pushed hard to have healthier employees. Despite number 2 above being about wanting employees to be happy, I risked that a bit when I stopped providing soda. We have a beverage fridge for meetings and in it we stock seltzers, waters, lightly sweetened iced tea, and some juices. In the kitchen, we provide milk, coffees, and teas.

We used to have soda and diet soda in the beverage fridge. I decided a few years ago to no longer stock those items. It just didn’t seem right for me to do that when I was writing blog posts and giving wellness speeches where I referred to soda as poison. And if someone wants to drink soda, they can bring it.

Back the original question I received about actions for a sustainable environment, helping employees’ health helps us have sustainable employees (and I would argue their happiness will be positively impacted over the long term, as well.)

One last thing about employee health. We have a few smokers. At one point, four out of the 40 people in our office smoked, which is right at the national, white-collar average of 10%. We currently have three out of 45. We have encouraged the smokers to quit, even offering cash rewards, to no avail. Quitting smoking is clearly super hard, which is a shame.

What are your business credos? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,