Growing a company all the way to an initial public offering is many entrepreneurs' dream, but having to keep track of shareholder concerns in addition to customer issues can be a daunting proposition.
Kip Tindell, founder and CEO of The Container Store, should know. Since his company's IPO last November, Tindell has taken investors on a bit of a roller coaster ride thanks to the company's volatile stock price.
So how has Tindell approached managing his business since making the leap to being a public company?
"At the Container Store we learned that if you take better care of the employee than anybody else, she will take better care of the customer than anybody else, and if those two people are ecstatic then the shareholder is going to be ecstatic too," he says.
"But that goes against all these business school rules that everybody is brought up to believe, that as a board member, as an executive, your priority is the shareholder."
A passionate advocate of "Conscious Capitalism," the notion that businesses should have a higher purpose than just maximizing profit, Tindell has a penchant for debunking various misconceptions about entrepreneurship.
"The best way to define Conscious Capitalism is to make people understand that business is really not a zero-sum game," he says. "Somebody else doesn’t have to lose in order for you to win. In fact, the people that are making the most money in the world have these mutually beneficial long-term relationship where both of them are doing great."
Building such a company culture, however, requires a full buy-in from everyone in the organization, especially the leadership, according to Tindell.
"A company can’t be a Conscious Capitalism company if the very top people in the organization aren’t completely committed to it and completely adamant about it. It just can’t happen," he says. "I think CEOs are really overrated in American business, but when it comes to this type of belief system, it doesn’t happen unless those top people have a strong culture in place."