Do we need to be ruthless in business? What does the word ruthless even mean?
Ruthless in the dictionary gives the term… without pity or compassion, cruel, merciless. Some people say that for the leader to drive the vision forward and weather the storm they need to be ruthless in business and to a certain extent I can be too, but with myself and not with other people. Even if I only had 3 hours sleep and want to go back to bed I will still be at the office all day. Or if I am on a health kick and craving sugar I will be ruthless and deprive myself. But nowhere on my entrepreneurial journey have I personally felt the need to be ruthless with anyone else, even if I am firing someone.
But should we be? Many big businessmen have been to get where they are today from Donald Trump to Richard Branson. Do we just pick our battles?
Starting a new business can be a tough slog. Lonely days and nights, little support, long hours and debt piling up. All entrepreneurs go through it unless they have a money tree in their garden and can start with a big team and access to many resources.
For most of us it is a long, hard slog with little reward in the beginning. But “Eagles Fly Alone and Ducks Paddle in Flocks”
Going forward a few years when you have a great supportive network, strong team and a customer base generating a profit the reward can be something as simple as working your own hours and pride in what you have achieved so far! However, the bigger your company gets the bigger the responsibility from keeping the lights on to keeping your staff in work.
Whether at the start of your entreprenuerial journey or midway through do we really have to be ruthless to be successful?
Ruthless behaviour in business is when companies take advantage of their loyal customers or someone else’s caring efforts to build and grow their brand. Many large companies operate ruthlessly from writing strict terms in the very small print to charging extortionate fees for a service their customers have no choice in paying due to their strict terms.
Others use their network when they need something and then avoid them when the favour needs to be returned.
No matter what industry or part of the world you are in ruthless behaviour occurs in many forms, shapes and sizes.
Forget earning the trust of your client base or from your employees by treating them well, showing commitment and offering support. Many executives just take what they can from them and give nothing back, not even a birthday card.
Yet these companies seem to be growing fast, creating a profitable bottom line and ever increasing customer base. Even within our own network you can see the ruthless businesses doing well yet the quieter ones that spend more time with their customers and developing partnerships are always chasing their next client.
So you can forgive new companies for adopting this approach when they see the larger successful companies achieving their goals within a short time frame.
But then look at it from another angle. Only recently, a large well known company who was famous for its executive’s ruthlessness has seen its downfall in a massive fashion. Being ruthless won them many new contracts, acquisitions and big numbers but this only kept them going for 20 years. Now many people are without work and small businesses without being paid for their hard work. Who or what was to blame? I am sure there are many differing views there.
Ultimately many entrepreneurs start their businesses with all good intentions from wanting to make an impact within their area of expertise, or bring something new to the market or simply to give themselves a lifestyle making their own rules and income. All are extremely inspiring reasons to begin a business, however how many of them continue being the same person they started out to be and how many are ruthless in business.
My philosophy in business is “To grow you have to continually step out of your comfort zone and keep swinging until you hit a home run.” It may take a little longer but I can hold my head high in the knowledge I dont step on people to get where I am today and I dont allow others to step on me either and there is nothing ruthless about that.