Companies with Heart: a Future to hope for

The business scenario is changing in depth. This is clear to everyone. The economic crisis is certainly a crucial drive for this to happen, but not only in a bad way.

It’s hard to say, but I argue that the economic crisis may also have some merits. I will try to explain.

When such triggering events occur, the ‘picture’ becomes clearer, so companies who are less efficient, innovative and open-minded come quickly to the light.

All that leads to a sort of natural selection in the market and this also leads, in turn, to unemployment and related effects in social terms and in terms of consumption. I argue that companies have huge responsibilities for all this to happen.

To be a real entrepreneur is a mission which is hard to do, so it’s not for everybody. Moreover, it’s not only about making money or satisfying the need of achievement that all of us, more or less, have. In fact, to be a good entrepreneur also means be aware of all the responsibilities – even social – that this role entails.

A good entrepreneur is somebody who is able to take care of a project. He must be a visionary person, that is somebody able to create new opportunities. As such, entrepreneurs are crucial in every economic and social context.

It’s a matter of fact that while in the past, skills such as being proactive and being a good manufacturer were sufficient to compete successfully, today entrepreneurs have to face an unfamiliar playground.

In this sense, the new strong skills to have are the following:

– skills for market analysis, firstly with the aim to find out new opportunities for doing business (even in the light of market niches) and for positioning at best, goods and services, above all at international level

– as mentioned before, international marketing skills, in order to decide: which products for which countries, how to operate in the different countries of interest, and how to manage the most important business relationships

digital marketing skills

relational skills

All this occurs within a specific way of being entrepreneur, based on kindness and passion. Moreover, this is “the way” of many of Italian small and medium enterprises.

Nevertheless, it’s now time to match at best entrepreneurial proactivity, managerial skills, social responsibility and “civic passion”. In this sense, everybody see Brunello Cucinelli as a best practice.

The scenario is quite different for bigger global companies. Based on their market power, investments and market shares, they are still able to address their customers. They still show persuasive behaviors, while trying to act ‘green and responsible’. However, in my opinion they are unlikely to be trustable from this point of view.

We might ask: whick kind of company could we expect in the future?

I really like the concept of “companies with heart”. They are companies:

a) that not simply aim at getting the best trade-off between the goals of their stakeholders, but try to get them all engaged in the best  decisions for the future of the company.

In essence, they don’t act to foster one stakeholder or another, as it would be if the company would opt for higher salaries for employees, or higher revenues for investors, or lower prices for customers. On the contrary, they create business models which makes it possible to pursue altogether the interests of all stakeholders. In such a “win-win perspective”, when the company goes and gets one specific goal, this makes it easier to reach other related goals.

That’s why such companies (still a few, to be) are able to make choices that might also look incompatible. For example, they could offer their customers high quality goods and services at affordable prices.

b) they are companies where salaries for managers are not disproportionate and where the ones for employees and collaborators are higher respect to the standards of the market

c) these companies are organized to make it easier for managers and employees to get in touch and interact with each other

This doesn’t mean that managers don’t lead employees, but their leadership is different in nature. It’s not a top-down leadership, but a bottom-up one.

Companies with Heart’ aim at creating workplaces which are smart, collaborative, fruitful and meaningful at the same time.

These companies are different as they are able to create better environment for people to express their talents, without too much pressure.

Within these companies people are not continuosly asked to be more fruitful. They work at their best, in a good mood, showing self-confidence and reliability. Here people are relaxed and concentrated at the same time and this leads everybody to do his or her own best.

Within these companies people often laugh, without conceiving life too seriously

d) these companies spend more money and time than competitors for training their employees

e) these companies give their employees all they need in order to make customer’s experiences memorable

f) they are also able to get involved with customers at an emotional level

g) they spend better their money for marketing and communication activities, respect to other companies in the same market. This way, they often spend less money than their competitors, but getting higher satisfaction and fidelity from their customers

h) they really consider their top-suppliers as business partners, so they want to cope with them for reaching common goals

i) they consider the climate and commitment within the firm the most important source of strong competitive advantages

l) last, these companies don’t deny their limits and weaknesses

All told, what really marks the difference between this kind of company and the others is their vision and open-minded approach. In fact, they are always looking for new opportunities. That’s why when a market or economic crisis occurs they don’t act for cost cutting (even dismissing employees), but they opt for adding new value to their offer.

From another point of view, they don’t consider their stakeholders as ‘competitors’ in the acquisition of value, but as partners to create new value with. In this sense, we might speak of a sort of business “chemestry” or “magic formula”.

Fulvio for Experyentya