This Is the Worst Reason To Start Your Own Business

February 23, 2016, 9:30 PM UTC
Photograph by Rafe Swan via Getty Images

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What is the most important quality a leader should demonstrate?” is by John Picerne, CEO of Corvias Group.

Conviction in your mission. It’s as simple as that. As a third generation real estate developer, I was literally born into the construction and property management industry. In fact, some of my earliest childhood memories are of trips I took with my father to his jobsites. Although this knowledge — from operations to business development — took decades to master, it was the cultivation of our company’s core mission to materially improve the lives of the people we serve, as well as having the conviction to put our mission ahead of other business objectives including profits, that I believe has led to our organization’s success.

Many companies, especially publicly-traded ones, are concerned about the continuous revenue stream. Before taking on any project or client, many people ask: What’s in this for me and my business? My investors? What will be our profit value? However, the minute you focus on quarterly returns or meeting profit margins, is the moment we fail as a society. I don’t run my company this way. Instead, we always start with the question: How can we provide value to our customer? Then, after the fact, we ask the customer what our job was worth.

See also: Here’s Why You Need to Speak Up More at Work

My belief is that in order to fully serve your customer, you need to think long-term about the problems you are working to solve. From my experience, customers value this line of thinking. Identify the plan of action first — profits will come later. For example, if you find out from a doctor that you have congenital heart failure, the first question you would ask is, “Can you cure me?” and not, “How much will it cost to cure me?” I use the same philosophy to run my business.

Today, many of us would rather buy medicine over the counter to fix something short-term rather than live a healthy lifestyle or hire a dietician for the long-term benefits. It’s this common ideology that people want a ‘quick fix’ that also exist in the business world — shareholders want a quick solutions. But if want to run a company that’s purpose-driven and solves long-term problems, then you need to have conviction. If you say it, live it. For example, in the military, often times soldiers sacrifice themselves for the sake of their brothers in combat. Why? Because they have conviction; they are selfless and they believe in their mission.

When I started my company, I was in a lot of debt; it takes time to build something great. But you have to be resilient and believe in your cause. Someone once told me: Money is extremely common. They produce more of it every day. Money is a shallow motivator. In of itself, it’s nothing more than a material object. So how do we make the world a better place? How do we improve the quality of life for others? It is my strong belief that by serving the needs of thousands of people, we can positively impact millions.

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