I`ve been totally fascinated, lately, as our business is starting to grow from nothing but an imagined idea. We had no money, and our startup capital was about $400. We`ve had to learn skills, apply just about everything we`ve ever learned, and do everything free or on the cheap. Yet we`re growing.
Of all the things we`ve held as absolute, it`s been the quality of our
product and our attention to details. Next to that has been our
attention to customer correspondence, without exception. No question
gets ignored or blown off, and we keep our customers in the loop
throughout the entire process of their purchase, to when they can
expect it to arrive at their home.
Good, so far. I also read about return on investment (ROI), and how to
calculate what sort of money return you get for the time or materials
invested in making your product or doing your service. That`s fine,
too, and pretty easy to understand.
So the other day we went out shopping, to buy an office chair. They`re
fairly expensive, and only a year ago, would have been totally out of
reach, financially. Yet now, we can afford to buy one because of the
money we`ve earned with the business. The wonders of capitalism, that`s
What we also came to understand is that we had a tremendous amount of
fun shopping for that chair. We looked around, found what we wanted,
and we were very happy with the purchase. I`d say we were more happy
than when we`ve bought other things, and it`s because we knew that our
customers are really happy when they receive our product.
All this got me thinking, in my rambling sort of way, particularly
about the Life Plan the Sloan brothers talk about. The whole point of
having this business is to make our lives better, more enjoyable, and
happier. There`s a balance here, I think, and it`s between the
happiness we provide to our customers, and the happiness we gain when
we take our "returns"---the money and profits we earn---and apply it to
our own lives.
What do you guys think about this, in terms of calculating ROI? Can`t
we say that there are returns that are so seemingly unrelated to the
direct process of investing in materials, operations, labor, and so
forth, that they can`t be factored into an ROI equation? Is it
legitimate to equate the balance of happiness that`s the final
result---the last consequence---of conducting business?