Whenever I ask a business owner why they are in business in the first place, and what they want for themselves at the end of the day, once in awhile I'll get the response: to make more profit. To have more money. And while I get that money is the way to measure the value that your business generates, it's never the bigger motivation of why we start and run our businesses. Money is a result, not a motivation.
And - I'll never forget when I learned this lesson in 4th grade California history class: the gold rush days. We spent a day dressing up as One-Eyed Jack, John Sutter, and a cast of the days' historical characters. Our school had a creek running through the campus and our teacher spray painted gravel rocks to look like gold.
There's gold in them hills
The point of the day was to pan for gold and trade it in for games with candy prizes with the other students. There was also a prize for who had the most gold at the end of the day. Each student had their plot of the creek that no one could invade so that everyone had a ‘safe harbor’ to pan.
That didn’t stop us. When teachers weren’t looking, students would pillage from unsuspecting students and pan in their sector. I suppose we really were re-enacting the gold rush days.
For me, all I saw was ‘most gold at the end of the day gets the prize.’ So I spent the whole day gathering gold while the other kids were playing the games, getting candy, having fun, while I was crouched-down, sweating under my costume, with gold fever.
Literally in the last 15 minutes of the day, it dawned on me: “These are painted rocks, there’s no real value here - I need to play some games and get some candy, now.” Unfortunately I caught on too late and none of the other kids wanted to give up the candy they came to school with for my spray-painted gravel rocks. I didn’t even win the prize for the most gold.
Moral of the story:
What is the real meaning behind your choice to start a business or run a business? What’s your version of the fool’s gold? Will more incentives or bonuses really inspire your employees? How do you bring real motivation, vision, and contribution to your company culture? It starts with you. The more you are clear with your WHY and articulating it in your brand, you will also attract cultivate employees and vendors who hear your call and stand behind you and your business. And successful brands and businesses are realizing, when you lead with meaning, money follows.