How’s your business doing?

By Eileen L. Berman, Ed.D.

With the financial markets in turmoil, and unemployment continuing to haunt us, I was fortunate to discover a business that knows how to weather the gloomy scenario that is unfolding around us every day.

I had the good fortune to go on a few days holiday to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where Bed and Breakfasts abound. However, like all businesses, they are all not the same.

I began my search on the Internet and finally came upon one which appealed to me as to its location, size, types of rooms being offered, and amenities. And to top it all off, it had availability for the time I planned to visit.

When I arrived, much to my surprise and satisfaction, the inn turned out to be “as advertised” –  and much more. The premises were lovely – not fancy – but this is Cape Cod with old historic structures.  It was, however, beautifully restored, updated, clean and well maintained. 

While all this contributes to the guests’ comfort, there is an element that is even more important, and that is the unknown quantity: the people factor – those who run it on a day-to-day basis. Given that a company has a fine product, it’s the people who interface with the public who ultimately determine the success or the failure of the enterprise. I was very pleased, therefore, to discover that this inn more than met the standards of hospitality. Everyone – the entire staff – was eager to please and knew how to do so.

When my vacation ended, I stepped back from my experience and began to think about all that I have been writing about for so long: effective companies and what makes them tick. I realized that the key to this inn was the same key needed to unlock the door of every business: the person in charge. From the minute I stepped onto the property, the innkeeper, (the“CEO”), was welcoming and available; no task was too large or too small for her to be involved in; she mingled well with her staff and never asked them to do anything she would not do herself. Her hand-picked staff reflected her own warmth and caring and everyone hustled to make sure the place was clean and welcoming.

While the fundamentals – as in any business – have to be in place, the customer has to feel valued and appreciated. And this little business is a marvelous example of how important a CEO is in setting an example that is exemplary in every respect so that the staff knows what is expected of them and follows the model shown by the person in charge.

I’m not sure this little business has a mission statement, but whether it’s been verbally declared or not, everyone working there knows what it is. It is enacted every day by the “CEO” and her staff. This – plus a good product – makes for an effective business.

No matter what your business may be, if you step back and look at it, can you tell a similar story?

Dr. Eileen Berman is a consulting psychologist in Rhode Island and has a website You can dialogue with her by e-mail: