True Success: Service and Innovation over Money

Yes, the purpose of a business is to make money.

However, I would argue that a business that makes making money its top priority is missing out on a bigger opportunity. Here are two great examples that illustrate that focusing on something other than money can yield a wildly successful business…

Apple Zappos

Read Delivering Happiness written by Tony Hseih, CEO of and you quickly understand his top priority in building Zappos was service. Become a customer of Zappos and you experience that service first-hand. Hseih made business decisions based on service first and profit second. Yet, he still managed to grow Zappos to over $1 billion in gross sales annually.


Read the Steve Jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson and you quickly see that Jobs’ focus was on innovation. He wanted to merge technology and art in a way that improves lives. He was ruthless in his pursuit of perfection and simplicity. His products had to be great, and it often cost more to do that. But he never let up. And he changed the world and the way we use technology. All while building the most valuable company in the world.

Interesting that two of the most successful businesses in the world didn’t focus first on making money.

As a result, they created businesses and products that are truly valuable. And, as a result they made money.

I think too many businesses, including independent service professionals such as coaches and consultants, are building their businesses from the wrong perspective. They’re too busy asking themselves what can I do today to get more clients and make more money. When they ought to be asking how can I serve, how can I do something different and really make an impact on people’s lives? What can I do that no one else is doing?

The result of this “me focus” is a lot of “me too” businesses that don’t really offer anything unique and are being built primarily to serve the business owner. I’ll repeat myself. Yes, businesses need to make money, otherwise they’re not truly a business. However, businesses need to serve people, otherwise they’re going to struggle to be successful.



About Debbie

After spending 32 years in marketing, Debbie now spends her time blogging, teaching online courses, doing volunteer pet therapy, and encouraging others to follow a more inspired path through life.

2 comments on “True Success: Service and Innovation over Money

  1. Zappos is a perfect example of a customer-centric business. However, what’s even more amazing is when Tony sold the company he specifically included language to protect his company’s #1 stakeholder — HIS CUSTOMER. Hseih recognized that a stakeholder change from “the customer” to “the investor” (or the shareholder) would terribly affect the company. We all know that when ownership of companies changes hands, so does the stakeholder — “customer first” companies suddenly become “investor first” and service goes out the window. Hseih recognized this and sought to protect it.

  2. Thanks for sharing MJ. I was not aware of that and am now even MORE impressed by Zappos and Tony Hseih. And, having only started doing business with Zappos AFTER it was sold to Amazon I can vouch for the fact that the service is still awesome!

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