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In the red: Why profit is killing your business

3 min read


Profit is killing your business. It hinders your career. It prevents employees from achieving their dreams. It derails potentially great leaders from rising to the top.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing inherently evil about profit. You’ll do your job today expecting to profit from the work you do. The business you serve expects to earn a profit on the product or service they provide. Your clients expect to profit because they did business with you. But there is a bottom line to profit that often goes unnoticed.

Profit is the belief that you can get more than you pay for. It’s the idea that I’ll trade my dollar for your product because I value your product more than I value my dollar. Did you catch that?

The power of profit

The power of profit isn’t the accumulation of wealth. It’s the creation of value.

It’s why the popularity of not-for-profit organizations and socially conscious corporations is on the rise. People have discovered that money may not buy happiness, but it can buy a better class of misery. For many people, making money isn’t enough. They want to make a difference. They want to add value to the world and expect the business they conduct to add value to them.

Creating value

When you create value, people will gladly trade something they love for something they love even more. Understanding this causes a shift in focus. Profit margin becomes a measurement of value created rather than simply money in the bank.

Our return on investment is measured in multiple dimensions of success:

  • Create value for employees. They will trade their time, skill and attention for the mission of your organization. They’ll put in more than 40 hours a week, not just because of the salary and benefits, but because they believe the work they do matters.
  • Create value for co-workers. They will become an irresistible force that will trade their personal agenda for the success of the team.
  • Create value for your employer and become the linchpin they couldn’t afford to trade for anything else.
  • Create value for clients.  They will trade their dollar for your product and become an unstoppable, unpaid marketing machine, sharing with friends and family their exceptional experience with you.

The formula for producing value is simple: Create more than you consume.

Transactional leaders ask, “What’s in it for me?” Character-based leaders ask, “How can I use who I am and what I have for the benefit of others?”

Don’t let an overdeveloped focus on profit kill your business, weaken your leadership or derail your career.

How will you use who you are and what you have for the benefit of others?

Chad Balthrop is a husband, father and executive pastor at First Baptist Church in Owasso, Okla. As co-owner and director of Interactive Solutions, he led the video production team for the largest student camp in the U.S. He is one of 21 co-authors on the book “The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution One Person at a Time.”