Work Wednesday: The Service Mind

"Coffee and Beans on Wood" by cocoparisienne

One of the mos timportant things you can do, whether working for a company or running your own business is to remember that all businesses exist to serve other people, and if they are going to be successful, they have to think of themselves as trying to work towards the happiness and welfare of their customers.

People often forget this simple idea in the business world: they forget that busnesses are there to offer somethign that makes their customer happier or mre successful first. They instead see a business as a way to make money. This is a backwards idea:

If you give customers something they want or need at a reasonable price and with the right level of courtesy, you will make money. If, on the other hand, you see the customers as having money that you want to get from them, you will be tempted to offer them things that they want less, charge more than is reasonable, and possibly do so through manipulation or obsequiousnes rather than through courtesy.

The moment a competitor comes along that wants to give the customer the best possible service, the company that was offering them the most profitable service finds themselves rapidly puhed out of the market, even if the new competitor has fewer resources.

It is very rare that  business lives through the first five years if they don’t start with the service mindset, because the five fundmental questions that any entrepreneur or leader within a business has to be able to answer at all times are:

  • Who am I serving?
  • What do I have to offer them?
  • Why do they want my service?
  • How amI sering them better than anyone else?
  • What is the next thing I am going to do to step up my game and make my customers happier?


When a large corporation fails it almost does so shortly after a shift in leadership; often the companyin question has survived a few generations and is more focused on adapting to the changing marketplace and shifts in their industry, rather than suppyng something new. They look at their sliding position within the marketplace, and typically appoint a new CEO or COO who can bring fresh ideas to the table. Unfortunately often because the original entrepreneurs involved are long gone, they appoint new leaders who think of their duty as being to provide value to the shareholers or the board rather than to the customers – and end up serving neither. If you want to see numerous excellent examples of this, I highly recommend browsing the first few chapters of Dr. Thomas Sowell’s book Basic Economics (Amazon link), or just reading up on the failures of companies like Sears or J.C. Penney’s.

If you are starting or runnng a small business as a Work-at-Home-Parent, then reminding yourself to think about your customers and what they want is critical.

If you are a parent who is working for a lrger firm at home, the odds are good that you are interested in trying to move yourself into a leadership position within your company. If that is the case, you can do yourself a world of good by exploring the Vision or Mission statements of your ompany, seeing who they are serving, and how, then asking what your company could be doing to serve them better. It is the surest way to have new ideas, a new approach, or  new sales approach that you can bring forward to the leaders within your company.

It s also a valuable tool for talking to your kids about what they do; children will understand and respect your work when they see you as doing something good for people. To say that you are a “Home Insurance Salesman,” or even “I sell insurance to people wh buy new homes,” for example, doesn’t teach them nearly as much about what you do as tell your kids: “I help people who have just bought a new house protect it: if something bad happens to their house they can rebuild it and replace anything they lose in a disaster. That way, they worry less and enjoy their home more.

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