Good companies versus great companies

What is a “good company”?

Naturally, the answer depends on who is asking the question. A stockholder will say it’s a company whose share price appreciates. A partner will say it’s a company that is easy to work with and considers its partner’s interests as much as its own. A vendor will say it’s a company who places regular orders and pays its bills on time. But since everyone is a customer of at least one company, it’s the customer’s perspective that we’ll discuss here.

If you’re a customer, a good company is one that stands behind its products and delivers fair value for the money you pay.

Lots of companies are able to do this, and they get rewarded with repeat business from their customers. Given a fair and level playing field, good companies shine in comparison to their competition and the result is a virtuous cycle in which they end up growing faster. If they are able to manage this growth and keep it from getting in the way of their being “good”, then they start making it on the various lists of the fastest growing companies. All is well.

Some companies achieve greatness.

A great company is one characterized by passion — a passion that its employees have for always thinking about their customers first, committing every day to providing them with the best product possible and never willing to settle for anything less than the best.

When a company possesses this kind of passion, it will often transfer over to its customers.  The best indication of this transference is when customers enthusiastically tell their family and friends about the company’s product. The reward for this is obvious, as the customers now serve as an extension of the company’s sales and marketing teams.

How can a good company become great?

The roadmap to becoming a great company is pretty clear: it all boils down to the employees. Without a team of people who have great skill and believe totally in the mission of the company, greatness is almost impossible to achieve.

Coming up with a unique idea, identifying an underserved market, or figuring out how to build “a better mousetrap” is only the first step to building a great company. The most important step (and some would say the hardest one) is finding the right people to make it happen… every day.

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