How To Define Your Value in Business: The Four Pillars


It’s a word we throw around a lot in business. In any job interview, in any negotiation, the central question is always “how is this deal going to add value to me?”

But what exactly is value?  Is it just about immediate financial results, or does it include intangibles as well? What are those intangibles and how do you measure their impact?

The truth is that there are no magic formulas. However, there are four pillars that can help provide a framework for how to think about value. All four pillars are important to business, relationships, and life; the trick is to figure out who’s providing what and how to maximize your own contribution.

The four pillars are Sales, Operations, Innovation, and Branding

The first pillar is Sales. Unfortunately, the word “Sales” often has a very negative connotation in the business world – it conjures up images of sleazy brokers and realtors who are only looking after their own interests. I agree that there are many unscrupulous salespeople in this world. But the truth is that sales makes the world go around, and most of the time, it actually results in a win-win solution. A truly good salesperson finds a deal that benefits all the parties involved, thus creating value.

Good sales practices aren’t limited to the workforce. Couples can “sell” each other on ways to improve the relationship. Good salesmanship is about creating value for everyone – this kind of deal creation is the lifeblood that builds sustainable businesses and relationships.

Next up we have operations. Operations are about figuring out ways to add efficiencies to a situation. In businesses this usually means cutting costs while maintaining all aspects of quality. There are many ways to accomplish this – training people to improve customer service, cutting out the middlemen, and changing the way people get paid to increase productivity.

Like sales, good operational practices aren’t just limited to the business world. Couples can use these techniques to divide up household chores and other responsibilities. The trick is to figure out what each person is best at, and thus improve efficiency and reduce the overall time. For example, my mom enjoys cooking and is excellent at it (while my dad is less talented). So my dad focuses his time on setting up the table and doing the dishes, letting my mom concentrate on her strengths. This way, they both contribute while maximizing productivity.

The third pillar, innovation, focuses on all things new – new technologies, new products, new markets. Things evolve, and one great way to provide value is to drive that evolution. If you are a creative or engineering type, this may be a great opportunity for you.

The fourth and final pillar is branding. Brands are all about trust. Google, Starbucks, and Coca-Coca are successful because people trust the quality of the products. This is why Starbucks can charge $4.00 for a coffee drink – people know exactly what they are getting and they’ll pay an exorbitant premium for that trusted brand.

But brands aren’t just limited to corporations. As I mentioned in a previous post, each person is now an individual brand. Cultivating your own brand by building other people’s trust is the best way to increase your own value and ultimately, your earning power.

Now that we’ve talked the four pillars, it’s time for the sixty-four thousand dollar question: where can YOU add the most value? Please share in the comments.

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