Making gobs of money is just not enough nowadays. Zappos is an amazingly successful online seller of shoes and clothing which was founded in 1999. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos obviously did something right when he changed priorities and decided to put employees before profit. In his book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Tony discusses Zappos plan to develop and promote employees through training, mentorship, and other incentives.
In a recent interview, Tony discussed the history of Zappos, and how he initially started by chasing profits but soon figured out that money does not necessarily bring happiness. He quickly turned his focus on the employees, and that is what launched the company to the next level. Zappos is a billion dollar company and its success is attributed to a customer-centered approach. They operate a 24/7 customer call center in Las Vegas and a 24/7 shoe warehouse in Kentucky. Both are staffed by a response team of individuals who are excited to work for the company.
The concept of giving back by putting customers and employees first is equally effective for small startups as well. In 2008, Tawny Ong started a baking business called Deserts by Tawny, in New York City. She started the business on the premise that cupcakes tend to put smiles on people's faces. However, Tawny did not know how to bake so she went to work for a local bakery for a while, to learn the nuts and bolts. Eventually, she enrolled at the Institute of Culinary Education and then began the journey of becoming a small business owner. Tawny volunteers her services and time at least once a week at various non-profit benefits throughout the city. Each event costs her money and time, but she is dedicated to giving back because it is embedded within her business model.
Tawny's desserts are absolutely delicious! She has steadily developed a loyal following throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Her classic desserts like mini cupcakes, classic cupcakes, banana pudding, and icebox cake have graced events attended by Mayor Bloomberg and Lady Gaga. Tawny is launching a new store in New York City this year.
While it took years for Tony Hsieh to figure out that putting customers and employees first was the key to success, it has been a part of Tawny's vision from the very inception of her business. This is a small business you should definitely keep your eyes on because it is going to be the next big thing.