Make Profit an Outcome, Not an Objective

While all commercial companies are in business to make a profit, companies that make profit their primary objective are barking up the wrong tree and not likely to be successful over the long run. The truer – and smarter – objective for any company is to thrill customers with your offering. When you’re able to do that, profits will naturally follow.

You only need look at the news to see what happens when profits come before excellence. While many factors led to the troubles at Boeing, it’s not in doubt that corners were cut to make the numbers. Had Boeing made it its mission to thrill their customers with great engineering and great airplanes, it would have resulted in more sales, which would yield greater profits. Instead, it’s being sued by its shareholders, and U.S. airlines are sending orders to EU-based Airbus.

Elon Musk cut a whopping 80% of Twitter’s workforce in changing over to X. The resulting product quickly scared off its biggest advertisers and lost 30% of its users. Mark Zuckerberg called 2023 the “year of efficiency” and Wall Street applauded. Among the victims of 20,000 job cuts was an ambitious fact-checking project that had taken half a year to build. One of Facebook’s greatest challenges is keeping user trust. Another is keeping users engaged on the platform. Do these seem like smart moves to you?

While it seems like a lifetime ago in internet years, it’s worth looking back on the nerve of Jeff Bezos in telling his investors year after year that he wasn’t focused on profits and didn’t know when Amazon would be profitable. Instead, he was laser-focused on building a culture of total customer satisfaction. There’s no doubt that he’s succeeded in delivering on his goal. Amazon’s customer service is arguably the closest thing we have to a gold standard, and last year the company posted $30 billion in profits.

You don’t need to be Bezos to create a culture of excellence, and you don’t need to be Musk to lose customers through cost cutting “efficiencies.” You do need to be mindful of what customers love about your product. And then do more of it.

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Senior Partner Lew Brown oversees bluesalve partners' health tech practice. Lew has deep expertise in consumer IoT, consumer technologies and consumer goods, and excels in bringing new products and technologies to market.