Making Money vs. Providing Value with Your Small Business

When you’re starting a new business, trying to take your business to the next level or brainstorming for that next brilliant million-dollar business idea, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only considering the following:

  1. Will this business idea make me money?
  2. Is this idea something that I would love to do?


At first, those questions seem right on target. Of course you want your business to make money—that’s why you’re starting a business! You don’t want to spend all your time, money and energy on something that’s not going to pay your bills. Unless you skip question #1 and go directly to question #2 and just want to run your own business because you LOVE doing it. This would be like the artist or musician whose “business” is creating and wants to follow his or her dream no matter what the profit is.

I’d say that most of us, though, consider both questions when starting our own businesses. You want your business to make money AND you want it to be something that you love to spend your time on. Naturally, right?

But here’s the problem with ONLY considering these two questions…your customers don’t really care if your business makes money or if you love doing it (with exceptions, of course).

When someone’s shopping for your product or service, they don’t care if you’re making 6-figures a year or if your income is barely hanging out above poverty level. In addition, they don’t care if you love what you’re doing or not. Those two factors make for nice stories on Oprah or in Success Magazine, but they don’t motivate your customers to spend their hard-earned cash on your product/service/idea.

image50So what does make your customers want to buy from you every time? Well, the bottom line is that you have to provide value. And by “value”, I don’t mean a good price for your product or service. I mean that your business has to solve a problem. It has to provide value and give customers a solution to a difficulty they’re having.

That’s why you need to shift your thinking away from the two questions above and answer these questions first and foremost:

  1. Does my business provide value?
  2. Does my business solve a problem?


Think about it, if you find a cure for cancer, do you think you’re going to have any trouble making money? Absolutely not. Because you have provided a powerful solution to a problem. You have provided value and people are willing to pay (good money) for it. Do those people care whether or not you loved every minute of your quest to cure cancer? Not at all.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that your business has to cure cancer or solve the world’s energy crisis or feed all the starving children (even though that would be nice). Sometimes you just have to find something around you that’s not as efficient as it should be and make it better.

For example, when the company Hootsuite came around, they provided an online platform that allowed you to manage and post to all your social media sites from one location. Brilliant. They took something that was becoming increasing complicated and simplified it.

Or there’s a new app out now called Summly that takes news stories and shortens them so you can get the news in no time. The teenager who developed that app sold it to Yahoo for tens of millions of dollars. He provided a solution that made reading the news easier and take less time.

At the same time, your current business (or new business idea) doesn’t have to be an intricate app or software, it could be something as simple as creating a hanger that doesn’t stretch out sweaters. Or developing collapsible crates that are perfect for moving and storing your belongings. Of course, I just made those up, but you get the idea that there are thousands of ways to provide value and solve problems.

When you’re developing your business idea, consider the question, “How can I provide value?” first and foremost. This is your #1 goal when creating a successful business.

Money will follow value every time.

Next, even though your customers typically won’t care whether you love your business or not, I vote that you get into a business that you’re passionate about. This is because you are going to be living in your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and having that passion is what’s going to keep you motivated and moving forward at all time.

Good luck and happy quitting!


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Dania - 6 years ago

Thank you. Another great article! A few months ago I became an affiliate for a network marketing company but later ended up regretting that because I did not love it and because it didn’t provide the value that I thought people wanted. Now, I’m coaching people to incorporate more love into their lives and that makes me happy. So, thank you Laurel for this blog. You provide value!

    Laurel Staples - 6 years ago

    Thank you again Dania! I’m excited to hear more about your coaching business. It sounds like it’s exactly what you’re meant to be doing right now.

Dash - 3 years ago

Thank you for this post. Reading this helps me understand that I need to shift my focus on making money and start adding value to the world. I feel like I am at the beginning of a long journey of helping others so I can find myself again. All the best,

Dash Matthews

    Laurel Staples - a couple of years ago

    Thanks Dash! Yes, there’s definitely an “energy shift” when business owners focus on adding value…and money comes from that! And I know what you’re saying about being at the beginning of a long journey. I’ve been a biz owner for 10 years now, but I still feel like there is an exciting journey ahead to help more people and make more impact. 🙂

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