In The End Your Business Just Boils Down To This…

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I believe that one of the most underrated assets of any business is pride. Simple pride in your work can make all the difference.

This goes from the smallest business owners to the biggest corporations in the world. It is something I have experienced myself in terms of working with clients and also in terms of hiring people.

Today I want to demonstrate from both my own experience and in the wider world why pride is so important to a business’ profitability, and as such, its ultimate success.

Why Pride Should be So Important

Generally speaking, economists and business experts will tell you that a business has to compete on one of two levels (or possibly both):

  1. Price
  2. Quality

The common acceptance is that competing on price is tough. It’s a never-ending battle — the margins are tight and the focus is on volume.

Competing on quality meanwhile is a whole other ballgame. Take Apple for instance. They charge a premium for their products because they have an unerring focus on quality. If you watch one of their promotional videos you will notice that they major on beautiful design and build quality. Their enthusiasm and pride for what they do practically seeps through the screen:

Companies like Apple can charge a premium for their products because they advertise themselves as the best. They’re not trying to tell you to buy their product because it’s cheap. Apple don’t run sales. When I purchased my Macbook Pro and attempted to haggle with the retailer I was simply told that discounts aren’t possible with Apple products.

And guess what — these days, Apple is a pretty successful business. That is of course a huge understatement — it is the largest publicly traded corporation in the world by market capitalization — greater than that of Microsoft and Google combined.

Every single product Apple produces can be considered “premium”. From the iPod to the iPhone to the iMac, every single product type sits at or near the top of the pile in terms of price.

And yet the company is wildly profitable. Ultimately you can put that down to the pride they have in their work — the expectation that they will produce something of pure quality, and as such will be able to charge a premium for it.

I said earlier that competing on price is a volume business. But whilst Apple has just 12% of the home PC market in the US, it crushes the competition in terms of profitability. Because it has built a culture based upon pride in quality, profits are through the roof.

A Personal Story of Pride

I was recently looking for a graphic designer for an extremely simple job. It was literally just a button — block text on a solid background. Obviously I didn’t want to pay a designer’s $50-$70 minimum fee, so I put out a message to my Twitter followers asking if anyone was interested.

I got one particular response at the ridiculously cheap price of $5, so I thought sure, why not? You can’t go wrong for $5. What I got was unusable for my purposes. The text didn’t line up and the margins weren’t symmetrical. The designer had managed to screw up the easiest of jobs.

Here’s why the designer’s corner cutting was a false economy:

  1. I sent the buttons back for revision. Rather than doing the job correctly once, he had to redo his work. All on a $5 job.
  2. When I got back the second revision and it still wasn’t quite right, I just gave up.

You may be wondering why the second point goes against the designer. He might’ve been pleased that he got $5 for a half-assed job, but what he didn’t realize is that I use graphic designers on much bigger jobs and am on the lookout for a good one. Him doing a great $5 job could have led to $1000s of work in the long term.

And I was at fault too, for my focus on price. Next time I know that I simply need to pay a premium to get a quality job done. I need to find the designer who takes pride in their work, and as such can afford to charge a premium for it.

Customer Priorities

For even more evidence of the importance of pride in your work you simply need to observe how customers prioritize products and services.

A survey of over 100,000 small business and retail customers nationwide concluded with the finding that people will put service ahead of price if you give them the chance. T. Scott Gross, who turned the results of the survey into a book, had the following to say:

American shoppers are not the finicky, price-conscious bargain hunters they have been made out to be … Consumers will pay for good service with both their cash and their time.

This attitude is prevalent both on a macro and micro level. Take the car industry for instance — one in which companies have historically fought tooth and nail over price. However, consumers appear to have a different attitude:

According to Consumer Reports, quality is the No. 1 factor than can influence a new car buyer to change brands [above other factors such as price and fuel economy].

The idea that customers are obsessed with price over quality is becoming more widely accepted as a fallacy. The businesses that recognize how pride in their products and services affect profitability will benefit from their foresight.

Pride Leads to Profitability

So as you can see, pride in your work can have a huge effect on your potential for success. It can direct your business towards profitability and away from the painful avenue of competing on price.

I believe that the minute you lose focus on quality, you start going down a very dangerous path. When you give it serious consideration, which path do you think is right for your business?

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