We all engage in business. Every day, we take part in business. It may not be obvious, yet from the moment we wake, we are consumers — by turning on a light; running water; dressing; eating breakfast; gassing up the car; stopping for coffee; and, of course, texting and emailing. Throughout the day, you engage in activities that contribute to the creation and delivery of a product or service.

The more a product or service fulfills a need, the more we are attracted to it. The greater our attraction is, the stronger the offering. The stronger the offering, the more powerful the brand. The more powerful the brand, the
more value the product or service has.

Why are you in business? 

I often ask audiences, “Why are you in business? What is it you’re trying to do?” The most frequent and confident response is, “To make money!”

That’s not a wrong answer. There’s a great deal of truth in it. After all, one of the measures of business success is profit. Profit is part of the endgame; the scorecard. Making money is the measuring stick of capitalism.

In my view, the purpose of a business, regardless of the product or service and whether it’s a for-profit or not-for-profit enterprise, is to win the customer. That’s what business is all about.

I then ask, “What do you offer the customer that allows you to be successful and make money?” Answers include:

  • “Superior customer service!”
  • “Added value!”
  • “A product our customer can depend on!”
  • “We give them quality!”
  • “I offer them something they can’t get anywhere else!”
  • “We provide expertise!”
  • “A wide selection of options and choices!”
  • “We give our customers peace of mind!”
  • “To bring value to people’s lives!”
  • “We provide solutions!”
  • “Helping our customers reach their goals!”

It’s interesting when members of the same team give different answers. If there’s going to be misalignment among members of a group and a conflict over who is right and who is wrong, this is where it starts.

Winning the customer

Winning the customer is the result of delivering a product or service in a way that motivates the customer to buy it.

They choose to spend their money on your offering rather than on someone else’s—your competitor. Competition is a key driver and motivator of business. The foundation of our capitalist system is our shared desire to compete. The winners reap the benefits, so it is natural that we compete to win.

When a customer pays enough for your product or service to make a profit, you can invest that profit to increase your ability to win and build your business to win even more.

Winning isn’t our only motivation; several others contribute to our propensity to participate, including the social benefit we create and deliver.

A powerful aspect of an organization’s alignment resides in what is being created and delivered. Behind every product or service there is a purpose—a reason why the product or service has value. Finally, there is how the product is created and delivered to the customer.

These three are the centerpiece for what it takes to win in business, and together they provide the foundation for how the four elements of the Business Code, the customer, brand intention, culture and leadership, come together. In my book, True Alignment, we’ll explore how these forces influence the cultures of our teams and organizations, engage us in our leadership preferences, and result in the consistent thinking and behavior business demands.


Edgar Papke is the co-author of Innovation By Design and author of True Alignment and The Elephant In The Boardroom. He helps leaders and their organizations align to create greater levels of innovation, performance, and fulfillment. He can be reached by email: edgar@edgarpapke.com