I’m writing this, very much as a personal note, how I as a director think when involved in business in any shape or form but especially in the way we look to do things at Real Point. This isn’t a new direction or jumping on a band wagon for me or Real Point but something that has been a part of how we do things from when we started, however, reading Anita Roddick’s book and being involved in TBN has inspired me to try and crystallize my thoughts!
Take this as my business manifesto – when I get it right a big thank you to those who have inspired me and to the team at Real Point who so often bring me to task when my thinking needs adjustment; when I get it wrong please be patient with me and let me know!
Creating the balance
I believe business is much more than just the pursuit of making money and a comfortable life for myself. Often referred to as the triple bottom line business should, in equal balance, consider people, planet and profit. When we forsake the first two for the latter then something is wrong and does not create sustainable business. The following article summarises how I think about all three.
It’s an oft quoted saying that “people are the most important element of a company’s success” but so often only lip service is paid to it. If the effect we have on people’s lives is not at the centre of our thinking, a company will only be the poorer for it, both the people we work with and our wider social impact.
The people we work with
Our internal motto at Real Point is “Fun, Honesty and Excellence”.
In our working lives not everything is going to be fun but moments of joy should be part of our daily experience and as business leaders and team members we should look to foster and encourage these.
Honesty should thread through everything we do, to each other, to our customer’s and suppliers, if we lose trust then life loses colour and we create unnecessary stress. We should never try to pull the wool over a customer or supplier’s eyes for a short term benefit, it’s sure to result in long term damage to working relationships.
Excellence should be what we strive for, to do and be the best in whatever we do, going the extra mile and delivering above client expectation. Everyone’s experiences, views and opinions matter and everyone’s voices should be heard. We all make a difference to the success of the business and a director or manager should not be exempt from challenge or encouragement to think or do differently and just because someone works in finance doesn’t prevent them having a great marketing or product idea.
Our wider social impact
At every step of our decision making we can affect the lives of others. So at every step we should endeavour to have a positive impact rather than negative. Some of those effects may only be small, but ignoring our small impacts results in the bigger problems never being sorted. So we try to ensure the suppliers we use pay their employees a fair wage, we go into local schools and encourage the next generation to aim high, offer work experience placements to young people, offer discounted rates to charities for the work we do so they are able to use more money to make a difference in the work they do, as well as volunteering our time and expertise where it can be useful.
For business to succeed in the future, it needs a world to be successful in, but often the decisions we make are far too short term without us thinking about their long term ecological impact. We do things in the way we do because that’s the way we always have done them without thinking about creating a beneficial effect right now as well as for the long term.
Reducing waste, cutting down on consumption, using public transport, meeting virtually can all have immediate time and cost benefits as well as reducing our carbon output. Recycling should be a given, though at Real Point through the FSB we are campaigning for this to be made easier for businesses by local councils. Looking to use local suppliers with whom we can build good relationships and mutual benefit can also reduce the impact of unnecessary long distance haulage. We can also engage with and encourage our suppliers and customers to specify environmentally sound products and practices.
What I’ve said about people and planet is also true for the work we do. For example, in designing websites we consider accessibility issues to prevent social exclusion, in implementing technology solutions, we should look to create a positive social and environmental impact, encouraging clients to think of how they can use technology in creative ways to reduce travel or paper usage.
Sometimes in looking at the first two we can forget about profit, an essential element if a business is to be sustainable! All three need to be held in balance for a business to be a success for everyone involved. Profit needs to be maintained to allow the business to grow and develop, respond to challenges and create innovation. Profit is also a reward for risk, many entrepreneurs and business owners have risked a great deal personally, including myself, to create profitable businesses and it is only right that the risk is rewarded or new and exciting opportunities will be lost.
However, a good business should recognise that it is the hard work of everyone that creates the success story, an owner should not benefit to the detriment of his workforce, the whole work force should, and in the case of Real Point will, benefit from our financial successes.
Walk the talk
Writing what I’ve said is dangerous, it’s easy to say the right things, but living by it is a far harder task. I ask you to pull me up if you notice me falling short and push me harder and further to do things in the right way. Here’s to us all considering the bigger picture as we build our businesses.