During the 1930’s, there was an accountant named Otto Berman who had a very special client which just happened to be the mob. The mob was in the business of selling insurance. Others called this extortion or protection money. If you failed to pay the “insurance premium,” intimidation, threats, punishment and even death followed. Those who sought an understanding or mercy from the mob for why they couldn’t pay the “premium” when requested often ended up talking to Otto. Otto’s reply was “It’s just business, nothing personal.”
While that phrase, “It’s just business.” has been uttered many times, nothing could be farther from the truth. In reality, the golden rule applies to business as well. What if we were to turn the phrase around and thought of everything as personal? What if we were to treat our customers, clients, employees, and colleagues the same way we would treat our best friends or family? What change would you see in your business or your life?
Most of us entered into business to help someone or meet someone’s need. We intended to make a profit, as that is also a goal of business. As business owners we spend (or should spend) time looking at our numbers, growing our profit and improving our business metrics. This is needed if we are to stay in business. None of the numbers are why we went into business. We started our businesses to build relationships and help someone. We went into business because we care.
There is an old story of a rancher who said he only lived by one rule- the golden rule. He was asked, “But you just deal with cattle all day. How do you live the golden rule?” The rancher smiled and said, “I’m not a cow but if I were, I reckon I would want some space to roam, clean water to drink and sweet green grass to eat. So, I give that to my cows and that is why they are happy.”
It is time to make business personal again. Perhaps we can each think about who we deal with every day and ask ourselves what we would want or need if we were in their shoes be it a co-worker, customer or the like and give it to them. I reckon it will make both of you happy.
This blog allows you to experience the raw, gut wrenching drama of human conflict through accounting in each of its three stages: preparing to do battle, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.