As an entrepreneur, I love to see sales and profits soar just as much as the next guy. But I believe it’s critically important to understand that profits are always secondary to people. The goal of an entrepreneur should be to make life better for other people — whether it’s customers, employees or partners — and not just for yourself. Surprisingly, that approach can lead to even greater success.
Here are three ways I’ve found success over my 20-year entrepreneurial career by putting people over profits.
1. Find ways to apply existing technology to address new areas.
I love investigating new ways to apply existing technology.
To achieve this, my first recommendation would be to seek a solution to a real problem that you care about and can relate to. Once you have the passion to find a solution for something, even if it takes time, you will eventually come across an inspiration from other worlds to help you make a match. Also, you can try to immerse yourself in activities and organizations that may offer sources of inspiration. For example, becoming a member of global leadership forums is a great way to find inspiration. In groups like these, people from different industries come together to exchange stories and ideas.
Second, surround yourself with an inspiring group of people with diverse areas of expertise and complementary skill sets. This can heighten your awareness of innovations and solutions in different industries. Some may interpret this as “defocusing.” Nevertheless, I’ve found that this so-called defocusing can be critical during the execution phase.
Finally, collaborate with a strong partner. A strong partner should be the one that completes you by providing something you lack, whether it’s a particular set of business skills, operational expertise or even funding. Each side brings their own unique strengths to create synergy and elevate the business.
2. Do well by doing good.
Entrepreneurs should know that they really can do well by doing good because financial rewards are very often directly related to human benefits. I discovered this when I set out to put an end to bedsore-related fatalities and generated substantial revenue in the process.
I truly believe the only way to succeed in business is by putting people over profits. I live by the motto that if you can help save even a single life, that’s more rewarding than any financial return. But the truth is that if you focus on solving important problems, you may not have to worry about profits because they often naturally follow as a byproduct of your hard work.
It is always easier to understand how your business works, including what you are selling and how you are doing it in comparison to your market. But finding the meaning — the emotional benefit that drives your passion — can bring your customers closer to you. One way to do this is to contribute your unique perspectives and business know-how to the community you are part of. For example, you can offer your products or solutions for free — when applicable — in places where members of your community can directly benefit from it. Or invest your time in mentoring a leadership forum at the local or national level. Anything that can make you and your employees feel they are doing good is likely to come back to benefit the business.
3. Pursue your passion.
Perhaps the issue I care most deeply about is women’s health and preventing diseases like uterine cervical cancer. I set out with the belief that we could reduce the severity of this problem with technology, and I was so excited to jump out of bed every morning and try to find a solution. This passion enabled me to stay positive, even when we ran into difficult situations that threatened to derail the entire project. The result is the development of a device that can provide more objective cancer screening.
It’s easier than you may think to incorporate your passion into your business. Look around you at your family, your friends, your community, and the news. These are some of the most inspirational connections to make to find something you really want to work for. My passion for women’s health came from the understanding that my wife, my mom, my daughters and my sisters are not getting the most optimal gynecological care, and now I’m working hard to make a difference for their well-being.
I believe that to truly succeed, entrepreneurs can’t simply do well — they also have to do good. That means putting people above profits at all costs. The amazing thing is that doing good can not only bring great personal satisfaction but can also lead to even greater success and enable you to truly make a difference in this world. And making a difference is really what being an entrepreneur is all about.
Ran has founded many companies, including wireless charging company Powermat Technologies. He is passionate about using technology for good.