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High Performance: The unimportance of profits

October 10, 2017 -  By

Fall seems to be the season for strategic planning retreats in the green industry. These retreats are opportunities to discuss long-term and short-term priorities, plans and goals. I’m always somewhat surprised when profitability is not called out as a priority, which happens frequently.

These companies see profits as essential—in that they would not be able to function for very long without them—but not all that important relative to other things. It’s like saying we couldn’t live long without air or water. They are essential to our survival, but they’re not our priority. In our list of priorities, they are relatively unimportant to us, because we take them for granted.

So, if profits are not all that important to these companies, what is? All sorts of things. For example, many green industry companies are prioritizing making investments in their culture and becoming more attractive employers. Like all service industries, the green industry is facing a labor shortage and these companies see value in offering a highly inviting work environment to attract and retain talent. They are willing to make these investments, even knowing they will surely eat into profits. Are profits important? Yes, but only as a means to an end. Is becoming an attractive employer more important? Yes. It is the goal.

When working with many companies, I’m blown away by their focus on something more significant than increasing the owner’s net worth. In some cases, discussions about profits are almost taboo, as they represent misplaced priorities. There is something refreshing and inspiring about this approach. Making money is great, but for what purpose? Companies with a deeper purpose are going to attract and retain the most talented and dedicated people, in my humble opinion.

How important are profits to you? What’s more important? Do your people know what’s important to you?

Now go forth.


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Phil Harwood

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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