Four styles of business

How would you feel if you provided a product or service and your customer lost money?

How would you feel if you purchased a product or service and your provider lost money?

How would you feel if you both lost money in the process of transacting business?

What if you both made a profit?

Business is oversimplified when it’s framed in terms of a monetary transaction, a price. A price alone cannot tell you the fate of either party in the transaction. In the short term that may not matter. But in the long term is means the difference between being in business and out of business.

Unfortunately, business is often framed from a short term perspective.

If however we think about the long term, and how all of the short term consequences add up, there are four possible outcomes:

Sustainability in Business 2

When both the provider and buyer profit from business, that’s sustainable in the long term. When both parties lose, that’s definitely not sustainable.

The gray area is where one side profits and the other doesn’t. Of course it’s bad for the side that doesn’t profit. Is this situation good for the side that profits? How sustainable is it for a provider to lose a buyer? How sustainable is it for a buyer to lose a provider?

Not knowing which quadrant you fall into seems reckless. Knowingly falling into in any quadrant but the upper right feels sleazy.

What if you had a way to know from the start of providing a service or product that you were highly likely to end up in the upper right quadrant?

How can you make sustainability explicit in the business you do?