How do you think about business?

How do you think about business? Do you relegate your responsibility to simply carrying out the actions that others ask you to carry out? Do you simply see yourself as collecting a pay check for showing up?

I tend to see people fall into a spectrum in terms of how they do business. On one end, I refer to their perspective as parasitic. On the other, symbiotic. Most people are somewhere in between.

On the parasitic end of the spectrum, you simply see your responsibility as making sure you are successful and you don’t really care if the people who depend upon you are successful. These people may be people you work for inside your organization, or they may be the customers you serve.

I don’t think many people actually fall on this end of the spectrum, because most people have a heart. If you’re a fan of shark tank, you may know about the stereotypes placed upon Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary. His personification, and perhaps how he actually does business just based on what he has said on the show, falls into the parasitic end of the spectrum.

How you do business - parasitic

His personification will sell anything so long as someone will pay for it. Without caring if they actually need it, or derive any value from it. Or as I like to think of it, “I win” and “I don’t care i you win or lose.” Of course I doubt that’s really true about Kevin in real life, but that’s the vibe we get on the show and it resonates well to explain this end of the spectrum.

How you do business - UNINTENTIONAL

Toward the middle of the spectrum is where most people land. In this situation if someone were to ask you if your customers are successful, you would reply that you hope they are successful. You have a heart and don’t want them to lose. But it’s unintentional because you don’t actively do anything to ensure they’re successful.

How you do business - sustainable

At the other end of the spectrum is a completely different way to think about business. In this situation, you strive to be successful and you strive to make your customers successful. At the very extreme end of this part of the spectrum, you probably also strive to make your customer’s customers successful. You work very cohesively with your customers.

This end of the spectrum requires getting out of your comfort zone and asking hard questions to ascertain what matters in the work you do. It requires the integrity to say no to business that might benefit your organization but would not benefit your customer.

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Where would you like to fall on the spectrum? What could you accomplish by changing where you’re at on the spectrum? And, what’s the next step?