Owning a business requires many skills and a certain temperament. If you have read books like The E-Myth you realize that business ownership requires working on your business, as well as in your business. It requires technical skills and soft people skills.
It isn’t likely that any one business owner will have 100% of the skills needed for their business to grow and thrive long-term.
Which are the right skills? It doesn’t matter. As you grow you can hire the needed skills.
One Thing Every Small Business Owner Needs To Have
However, there is one thing that every business owner must have, and everyone that works for you too.
A short definition from the Merriem Webster’s Dictionary:
Character – moral excellence and firmness
Character in Business
I once new a man who owned a growing business. He was a member of a church community. He gave generously and tried to serve in his community. Then he went back to his business and yelled, cursed and fired people regularly.
I once new a woman who was an excellent skilled medical practitioner. She was referred to from everyone. Yet, she didn’t have the steadfast leadership skills to hold her employees accountable for the excellence required in such a fiduciary responsibility.
Another business owner didn’t pay their bills.
Another never worked, was always absent when a critical decision needed to be made.
And yet another showed favoritism, was always in a lawsuit, paid their team well below market, or some other less than God-glorifying trait.
None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes in our business. We all sometimes fall short, and wish we could grab the words that left our lips, or take out one less loan to manage the stress.
But as God points out in so many circumstance, our character should be one of our highest pursuits. We should be striving.
Why does character matter so much in business?
1. Character is the foundation of a company’s culture.
If you want to have a company that is known for honesty, integrity, grit, follow-through, fairness, and perseverance, you the owner must embody it. If a business owner has poor personal character, they will not attract a team of high character employees, or if they do, they won’t keep them. A company with a team of low character employees will not thrive. It will implode from the inside out. That same business owner that treats their employees harshly will either lose their team or potentially have people inside the company sabotage it. Through negligence, theft, poor work ethic, back-biting, etc. You set the moral compass of your culture and even those with poor character would say they want a culture of trust. They want something back that they are not giving.
2. Vendors and Customers expect strong character.
Who would choose to do business with a company that is not even trying to lead with character? Do you want to buy something from a company that doesn’t aspire to consistent quality? Do you want to rely on a company to pay you for your service if they have a reputation for not paying their bills? Do you want to lend money to a company that doesn’t persevere through hard times? We think that character is invisible. It is quite the contrary, it is not only seen, it is heard of. It becomes your reputation. Once seeded, good or bad, it takes a lot to change the public opinion.
3. Character is required to glorify God.
God cares about our business. It is part of who we are and what we do here in our physical life. One of man’s chief purposes though in life is to glorify God in all that we do. If we are a believer in business, then we are like a city on a hill. In a worldly way, we are a reflection of Christ. People expect Christians to be of high character. You know, to be more like Jesus. It’s hard and we never get there. But, it is important that we try. We glorify Him in the effort and the perseverance. We mess up because we are human, but there is still a difference in consistently trying to be of high character, versus not even trying or just faking it. People know. And as Christians, it is our calling to point people to Christ, not away from Him based on our poor representation.
Character Creates A Strong Foundation To Grow On
A business needs a strong foundation to grow on. If not, we have growing pains. We are like a house of cards that can topple at any time.
The base ingredient of a strong foundation is our character. It is what get’s us that first loan or investor. It is what motivates our client’s to refer us. It is what attracts talent and integrity to our team. It is the secret sauce to a business that is built to last.
And the beauty of it us that it is within our control. We have the choice to…
…make honest decisions.
…to treat people how we want to be treated.
…to strive towards quality and consistency in all we do.
We have a choice to show up… with our best self… every day.