Bema Creative just turned one! While we aren’t having a smash cake photo shoot, we have been thinking back on this year. What worked well? What didn’t? One of the most satisfying parts of Bema’s first year is this: We have seen the fruit of doing business differently.
I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine over coffee some time ago. We had decided to sit down and chat about the marketing agency, or as we so fondly refer to as a creative agency, that I had started with Brekke. As conversations tend to do, we turned to philosophies and values of business.
I have to admit something, I’m a bit notorious for diving in with two feet when it comes to these topics. I feel incredibly passionate about how businesses should operate because businesses are run by people for people. I am terribly people-focused. So in the midst of our passionate back and forth about our shared values, my friend asked me,
“So how did you learn all this?”
At its origin, Bema Creative was founded on our shared values between Brekke and I. We knew we had skills, but skills could be learned or traded for money. Skills are a commodity. The reality is we set out with the goal of running our own agency from a position of our love for others. We knew we would have to learn a lot even though we had a valuable set of skills. Our experience as employees over the course of years and under the management of a menagerie of different folks informed our decision to approach things differently. My friend asked another question.
“Was it something you were taught from previous employers?”
My answer made me uncomfortable. No. We didn’t learn to do business this way from others. Most of our experience as employees were helpful in equipping us with new skills, but the vast majority didn’t help us establish the type of relationship with our clients we desired. The tools we picked up along the way gave us something to offer others, but it wasn’t the skills or tools that left us hungry for more. It was a business model concerning customer relationships.
We simply wanted to care about people more than our current jobs allowed.
When I look back at my history as a working man, I see how there were so many valuable lessons I learned. We learned a lot of ways we didn’t want to do business. Our approach wasn’t conventional. What is typical in most settings is to see your clients and customers as a means to an end. This would not be our approach.
Our clients are not a means to an end; Our skills are a means to an end.
This is because the end result for us is the people we meet along the way. So we said to ourselves, well… we’re not here to sell to people, so how do we make money? They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Likewise, there was certainly a concern that the road to poverty was similarly established. If we base our methodology on relationships rather than hard sales how do we feed our families?
For us, these questions had a singular answer: no. We refused to define ourselves by those parameters. But, would the market reward that position?
I can say with confidence that this last year has shown us the answer to that question.
We aren’t the only ones who care about people.
The individuals we’ve established relationships with truly value people. They value their customers. Their values have aligned with ours.
We weren’t alone.
The belief that you are not a product wasn’t unique to our own idealistic fancies. What started as a leap of faith, a leap we took in hopes that we weren’t alone in our values, has been met with a trail of some of the most genuine business owners out there. Our success is a testimony that people can care about each other in the business world. It is a lesson that when you take off the heavy mantle of salesmanship and put on the yoke of partnership, people will allow you into their circle of trust. Authentic relationships are the most valuable asset we have in this world. When you deliver with integrity, communicate with transparency, and show the client you truly care about them, you will never be alone on your journey. You will discover meaningful client relationships and business interactions. You will find your tribe grows with the people that share your values and value what your share.
So, in retrospect, this last year has been a thrilling adventure that has allowed our tribe to grow exponentially. It has allowed us to replicate, refine, and reawaken in others what we truly believe to be the most important thing in business: caring for others.