What I’ve Learnt About Building A Business From The Heart
Building a business from the heart sounds like a catchphrase. It looks like a warm and beautiful idea that should be successful in theory but would never work in reality. Everyone knows that to be successful in business; you need to be money-oriented, cutthroat and put profit before people, right?
Not in my experience. My experience has proven that building a business from the heart will bring you the income you want, along with many benefits that can’t be counted on a budget spreadsheet.
In 2009 I started my first fitness studio. It was my first bricks and mortar business so I had no real idea of what I was doing. But everything I did always came from the heart. I live to create community and serve people, and my first business was a true reflection of that.
I made so many mistakes in that first business, as I think everyone does when they first start, but the one thing I did right was to put my clients first in every decision I made. The income I generated from my heart-centred business was good. I didn’t become a millionaire, but I paid my bills, put food on my table, and kept myself in fancy training shoes. But it’s the other things that came from that business that really impacted my life.
Building a business from the heart makes loyal customers
Anyone who’s ever worked in the fitness industry knows that people are fickle. Most of them are quickly swept away by the newest fitness trend, or easily convinced to stay at home and miss their training session because it’s too hot, too cold or they’re too tired. But when you build a business from the heart, putting your client’s needs first, people notice it. And they appreciate it. As a result, they give you their loyalty because you’ve given them yours.
The fitness industry is a seasonal one. While many of my peers were worrying if their clients would return after the Christmas break, I knew my clients would return, ready to train in February. I was confident that they wouldn’t look for a new personal trainer, or think that they didn’t need to see me anymore because I provided them with more than a workout. When they came to see me they were shown genuine care and respect. It was more than a workout; it was a regular meeting with someone whose primary intent was to make them feel and be as strong and as well as they could be. It wasn’t about taking their money; it was about providing service first and foremost.
Friendships and community
Genuinely caring about the people who came to see me in my studio allowed me to create a heartfelt community. Many of my clients still communicate with each other to this day! One of my beautiful clients invited me to live in her spare room when my house flooded in 2011, and I found myself homeless. Another one became my pet sitter. People won’t do that for you if you have your eyes on their wallet.
Money is important
There’s no doubt that money is essential. Be wary of the person who says that money doesn’t matter to them. But money follows service. The deeper your commitment to serve your clients, the less you will have to hustle for your dollars, and the more people will want to pay you.
It may sound like pie in the sky, but my experience proves it to be true.
How do you build a business from the heart?
Building a business from the heart will need you to show strength in your beliefs. It is so much easier to follow trends and make quick “easy” money. But the success that comes from those practices is fleeting, and you will spend everyday hustling for the next client, the next customer and the next dollar.
A business that comes from your heart will be a slower burn, but once established, your clients will sign up for more of your offerings because they already trust you. They will refer their friends and family to you and will eliminate your need to be continually marketing.
The first step in building your own business from the heart is to be passionate about what you do. Know why you do it, and then become the best you can be at it.
Want to start a gelato business? Put your heart and soul into it. Source the best ingredients, create the most delicious flavour combos. When your customers start showing up, get to know them. Remember which flavours they like and then recommend new ones that you think will please their palate. Don’t just sell ice cream, put your heart into it and sell the experience, the attention to detail and your passion for gelato.
Put money in its right place.
No one starts a business because they want to be broke. You start a business to make money, and if you’re not making money, then you don’t really have a business.
Be smart with your business structure. Be clever with your budgets and profit margins, but be generous with your clients. Don’t sell them services or products that they don’t need. Listen to them, pay attention to their needs and their wants. And then give them what they need. The more you do that, the more they will return to you, ready to provide you with more money. It’s easier (and cheaper) to keep an existing customer than to find a new one.
Forget the hustle and think service.
If you create a business that asks – how can I serve my customers – you will have a better chance of creating a long-term and highly profitable business.
If you create a business that asks – how can I make more money – you will be forever chasing the dollar. Eventually, all of that hustle will burn you out, leaving you miserable, worn out, disillusioned and possibly broke.
A final bit of advice
As I write this, we’re in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. My email inbox is full of businesses screaming for my attention. Begging me to spend my money with them and offering me huge discounts. But it’s the businesses that have served me well before the pandemic that aren’t begging me for my money now.
- My hairdresser, who never pressured me to buy fancy shampoos I didn’t need.
- My dog groomer who helped me source treatment for my dog’s sore paws, even though it brought her no extra money.
- My bulk foods grocer, who helped me market my yoga workshops only because she could.
I continue to support these businesses, and when I’m there, I buy a little something extra, simply because I know they need it right now. They will survive the economic storm because they have built their business from the heart.
Think about that while you plan your business. Our world is changing; maybe this is your opportunity to create a business with heart. A business that will contribute to a more connected and beautiful world to live in, post Coronavirus.