Soul Food in the Marketplace

“If you are trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion” (Elon Musk)

My family, like yours I presume, have always loved food. When my children were teenagers, they would take great joy in baking something for us as their parents. Generally this would involve mixing a whole lot of ingredients together and placing it in the microwave for a few minutes. We were then offered this ‘delicious’ meal and would have to pretend to enjoy the amazing tastes, while trying not to complain – and attempting not to swallow.

In the end, my kids had great enthusiasm in the kitchen, but because they did not use the right ingredients and did not follow some sort of plan for putting these ingredients together, what they made was generally inedible.

Using the wrong ingredients

In the business world, I notice as people work to make an amazing cake for the world to taste and see, but either use the wrong ingredients or are not following a clear recipe for success. Often the ingredients I do see in action are hope, hurry, hype, and hustle.

We must be careful not to create amazing sounding businesses, but when you bite into it, the reality may not match the hype. Some of the key ingredients for business success are character, relationships, hard-work, commitment and Trust.

Ingredient One

‘Character’ is moral excellence and firmness – that quality in a person that stands the test of time. We know someone has character because we trust them – they stand tall in the world because of an internal solidness which makes them different from the rest.

Are you walking in moral strength in how you lead and how you do business?

Ingredient Two

By ‘relationship’, I mean that our success often depends on the quality and on the depth of relationships which we foster. What is our relationship like with those we lead, with our staff and our customers?

Are we able to build relationships for the long term rather than just for the quick win. Howard Schultz, Executive Chairperson of Starbucks, described how “Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that has no barrier. And that emotional relationship is on the most important characteristic, which is trust.” Are you building trust in your relationships?

Ingredient Three

Growing up within my house-hold, ‘hard work’ was something not only celebrated, but expected. In a world that favours leisure and quick fixes, this quality is one which can lift you up above the crowd.

Grant Cardone, author of The 10X Rule, made the point: “Never take the position that things just happen to you; rather, they happen because of something you did or did not do.” What are you doing to move your business forward? Are you working 10x harder than the competition?

Ingredient Four

Sammy Davis Jnr challenged us with these words: “You always have two choices, your commitment versus your fear.” Are you ‘committed’ to the task in front of you or will you allow your fear to cause you to run away?

We need to be committed to our teams and to our business for the long term. We should be in the business of building big ideas not just building our career.

The most important ingredient

Most people sadly trust in second causes, and think all is well if the public will smile upon them. They trust in chariots and in horses, and the more of these they can bring into their business affairs, the more sure they are of success in their endeavours.

But, say the Israelites, “we neither have chariots and horses to trust to nor do we want them, nor, if we had them, would we build our hopes of success upon that; but we will remember, and rely upon, the name of the Lord our God, upon the relation we stand in to him as the Lord our God and the knowledge we have of him by his name.” (paraphrase from Biblical History, see Psalm 20:7)

Dwight L. Moody said it this way: “Trust in yourself, and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in your friends, and they will die and leave you; trust in money, and you may have it taken from you; trust in reputation, and some slanderous tongue may blast it; but trust in God, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”

These are a few of the ingredients that I believe will bring business success. What ingredients are you pouring into the bowl of your life and your business? When you are done, what kind of taste will it leave in the mouths of those who consume your product, use your service or interact with you?

AlanlouisPicAbout the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.

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