You have probably heard success defined as: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose such as popularity. Success is often also defined as a job or business that provides a valuable service for a profit. Most people associate the word “success” to business success; ultimately financial. If this were true, success would be defined as a big bank account, a fancy car and a big house. This is how many define success, but I’d like to stretch our thinking a little further.
When Jesus walked the earth, He had a lot of ideas which were revolutionary. He challenged traditional thought with new ideas that literally brought about a global revolution. One such thought was Jesus’ definition of success. He actually questioned how men defined success when He asked a crowd as well as his followers this question, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36 NASB)
Clearly, Jesus didn’t value the same things most of us value. He was a humble man, traveling the countryside preaching, teaching and healing. He didn’t even appear to own a home. Yes, Jesus had a much higher value system and definition of success.
How Jesus Defined Success
A lawyer once came to Jesus and asked Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” What the lawyer was actually asking was, “Teacher, which commandment must I keep in order to be successful?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40 NASB).
What was Jesus definition of success? Love. Love God, love others. Just love. In other words, Jesus defined success as: healthy, life giving relationships. Profound huh? Let’s apply this definition of success to business.
With this thought in mind, what is the primary purpose of any business? Profit? A huge bottom line? A profit is definitely needed if you want to stay in business, however if your primary goal is a healthy profit, then you are missing the point.
Success in business is when you provide a valuable service at a reasonable price for a customer and in turn, make a friend (not just a profit). The best businesses make friends, not enemies. Let me illustrate.
Cable Company (Unnamed)
Some businesses dominate the market but make enemies in the process. I won’t name them, but I can think of a cable company that is infamously known for exceptionally poor customer service. Everybody I have ever known who has used their services, has very little good to say about them. Somehow they managed to leverage and grow to a giant in the industry. Virtually none of their customers like them. This company, although financially successful, has managed to make a lot of enemies.
Chick-fil-a (I promise, this is not an ad.)
If you have ever eaten at Chik-fil-a I need not say more. Almost every experience I have ever had at one of their restaurants has been exceptional. They have incredible food and great service from polite, friendly employees. I just visited one in Pensacola, FL last week and complimented the manager on how well his store was run. It was a tight ship. The store was exceptionally clean. The lines were long, but moved quickly. The staff was friendly. The food was fresh and delicious. The manager wholeheartedly thanked me for the compliment. I felt like I had made a new friend. With these two brief examples, which company would you say is truly a success? The answer is obvious isn’t it?
Your Relationships with Your Customers Define Your Success
Success isn’t defined by size, financial status, or dominating a specific market. Success is defined by how well you have loved/treated your customers AND provided a valuable service at a fair price. If you are a business owner, I would challenge you to start thinking of your customers as friends. Would you treat your friends the way you are treating your customers? Would you somehow take advantage of your best friend and expect to stay friends or would you be there for them through thick and thin? How many business transactions have you made and actually ended up with a friend? These are the best kinds of transactions.
Making Friends in Business
About a year ago I joined a gym. The day I joined, I met Kim, the manager. She was one of the most vivacious, happiest people I have ever met. She made me feel like a friend in her home, instead of a client in a business. She sold me in minutes and I joined the gym.
A few months later Kim was promoted to district manager and her husband took over the manager position. His name is Richard, and he is an awesome guy. Every time I go to the gym, if Richard is there, we talk for at least 15 minutes about life. I encourage him and he encourages me. We even exchanged cell phone numbers and periodically text each other. Richard is my friend and he has an amazing gift.
Richard’s office is right next to the front door. No matter what he’s doing, when someone walks in or out of the gym, he stops, gives them his undivided attention and makes them feel like his best friend. Needless to say, sales at this gym have escalated and last time I checked this particular location was #13 out of hundreds. How did he do it? He loved well. He didn’t treat members like members, he treated them like friends.
I have owned a few different businesses in my life. I was a stucco contractor, a remodeling contractor and even owned a refurbished hot tub business. My favorite business however was Music City Water Sports. I was in partnership with Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort and I rented jet skis, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and fly boarding to our guests. (I sold the business in spring of 2016 to launch Love in 3D and write my second book: GOD’S WILD DREAM.)
Every summer, I would see many of the same smiling faces again and again. In fact, those who showed up regularly were offered special unadvertised discounts. We knew them by name and always joked around with them every time they came to enjoy their time on the lake. We provided a service that made people smile. Everybody that came back from their time on the lake acted like they were my best friends. Because of our attitude towards our guests, for the first several years, the business grew 100% annually. Even after several years, our growth was still running around 20% annually. How did we do it? We provided a great product, at an affordable price and we did it using love: treating our guests like our best friends. That’s success!