I started Kregel & Company to improve business owners’ lives by providing opportunity, peace of mind, and inspiration. I gain my own inspiration from reading lots of books.

This year, I’ll be sharing highlights and reviews of some of my favorite books that have shaped the way I approach business and leadership. The first one is Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business by Jocelyn K. Glei.

Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business With ImpactMany of us feel that our businesses are more than a paycheck and a job. We are driven by a commitment to craftsmanship, beautiful service experiences, giving back, and paying it forward. However, a commitment to these pursuits can be lost without investing in creating a sustainable business: one that acts its values across its execution, distribution, packaging, marketing, messaging, strategy, and leadership.

If you are seeking inspiration and energy to shape the future of your business, Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact may be the perfect fit.

The general thesis is that making great art, science, or thought through your work is not enough to generate an impact that changes the world. It requires channeling the creative mind around four key business principles:

The starting point for determining your purpose is surprisingly found not by looking at yourself, but by looking at what is missing in (and needed by) society. From there, we align our individual talents, training, and passions to these gaps and build a purpose-driven business.

  • Find your purpose: Problems come in all sizes and levels of significance, but as long as they’re real and affect people, you have opportunities and starting points to make an impact.
  • Look outward, not inward: Pour your energy, attention, and innovation into what others need.
  • Be a giver, not a taker: Create more value than you capture.

In knowledge-based firms, our products are our service delivery and customer experience — nothing else. That’s right: Excellent customer service is nothing without the very experience of it. If you want your service to stand out, do something remarkable.

  • Go easy on your customer: Remember to put yourself in their shoes to consider their frame of mind.
  • Get one thing right: Deliver an exceptional experience with one thing your customer needs, then build out your services from there. Create a high level of trust by delivering remarkably well with these experiences, and your customers will be willing to purchase from you again and again.

Our “job” in serving our customers is to act and listen as human beings, allowing us to instill confidence in each step of their experience.

  • Storytelling: Build stories into your brand, and help your customers see themselves in that story.
  • Notice the little things: Be sensitive and diligent with the details that improve lives.
  • Get to know your customers: To be sustainable, there must be ongoing attention to understanding your customers’ needs. Service delivery should always consider the rapid changes in the marketplace.

Clayton Christensen says, “… if you want to help other people, be a manager. If done well, management is among the most noble of professions.”

Many of us have worked for poor managers in the past, or maybe some of us are struggling to manage well in our current roles. A dismissive attitude to management because of these experiences is a poor excuse. For businesses to succeed with impact, we must lead well.

  • Ensure everyone is on the same page: Communicate a consistent message that drives focus and accomplishment of your core purpose.
  • Repeat yourself: …often.
  • Create healthy environments: We cannot shape personalities, but we can shape an environment that helps our teams produce great work.

Leading a small firm is hard, as is meeting the increasing needs of growing customers. Intentionally developing individual skills takes focus and precious time. And, inspiring a group of smart people to work together toward a common goal is a constant challenge.

But with the right motivation and guidance, all these goals are achievable — and your business and people will be all the better for your pursuit of them. Make Your Mark helped me see new ways to meet these challenges for Kregel, and I hope it does the same for you.