Consonance: only a responsible business endures
We strongly believe that profits should be earned sincerely
It is straightforward to understand our vision of being an enduring business. The link between this vision and our beliefs may appear tenuous to an outsider but to all of us at Secure Meters (Semsites), it is clear as day.
The time horizon for our business is not the next quarter, year or even decade; it is the next generation.
Shorter term business performance is, of course, regularly and rigorously measured. Yet our fundamental focus on the long term eliminates the contrived behaviours frequently employed to meet failing quarterly targets and allows us to focus on the underlying issues behind lagging performance.
No commercial enterprise can survive without profits, leave alone grow or endure. We are no different. However, we strongly believe that profits should be earned sincerely. Every time we sell a product or a service, our obligations, written or implicit, become our promise to our customers. If we fail to deliver to that promise, we have neither earned the profit from that sale nor have we been sincere towards our customers. We do not desire to profit from short changing our customers, a business that does so cannot endure.
Mutual trust facilitates business in a way contracts cannot
Trust is immutable. We firmly believe that mutual trust facilitates business in a way contracts cannot. (In extreme contrast, our government begins by distrusting everyone. That is the reason why everyone finds it so hard to deal with government.) If you honour your word, serve customers well, care for your employees and deal with all other stakeholders in a fair and honest manner, trust builds rapidly. In all relationships, we act in a manner that engenders trust. When we do it consistently, we build a reputation for trust with people we work with. This reputation is very important for us because it feeds the virtuous cycle of facilitating business, thus increasing trust and facilitating more business. And, of course, more business means growth and growth is an essential for a business to endure.
When it comes to stakeholders in the business, we keep a clear priority order. Customers come first, employees next, followed by suppliers of materials / services / finance etc. and at the very end are shareholders. The phrase “if a customer sneezes, we should get pneumonia” used frequently by Semsites, typifies this prioritisation. No business can endure if it does not achieve high levels of customer satisfaction at all times.
When relationships endure, business endures.
Unless our employees come next in order of priority to customers, they are unlikely to understand their own importance in serving customers. We therefore place a duty of care upon ourselves when dealing with employees. The business, ultimately, is the sum total of what all Semsites make it. And it will endure because employees too reciprocate this duty of care towards the company.
Our emphasis on trust helps build enduring relationships with all our stakeholders. When built on trust, these relationships endure. For example our relationships with some banks go back 70 years in the family’s history. This time has seen three generations at the helm of our business and probably 15-20 different individuals at the helm of the banks. The business relationship has endured through good times and bad simply because trust has only increased over this period. This is why we believe that relationships matter and we nurture them all. When relationships endure, business endures.
To endure we cannot fail any lender, ever.
This brings me to the issue of financial prudence. Every growing business needs funds and borrows them from banks and other financial institutions. Financial gurus can explain the mathematics that underlies what is a prudent level of leverage for the business. It is not mathematics, however, that drives our borrowings. We ask two questions, why do we need to borrow; how will we pay back the lender. Usually there is a business proposition behind the borrowing and if we do not understand the risks in that proposition well, we are probably better off staying away from that business anyway. If we do, we can make a strong assessment of what can go wrong and how it would affect our ability to repay. Only once we have convinced ourselves that we can repay the loan will we go out and borrow any money. To endure we cannot fail any lender, ever.
All Semsites believe that change is a constant and therefore tend to embrace change rather than resist it
There is a wealth of innovation in our history and our origins are in pioneering technology. In our short 29 year life, we are at present in our fifth stage of evolution not just as product generations but a business as a whole. It has been a blistering pace of change and the change itself is driven from our belief that whatever we do at any point of time, can be done better. This quest for the better has led us to seeking out best practices from different parts of the world and adopting them to what we do. For a large organisation, we remain agile. This is because we have learned to change very rapidly simply because all Semsites believe that change is a constant and therefore tend to embrace change rather than resist it. In this rapidly changing world evolving with the times is a must and the quest for a better way and its rapid deployment are our way of enduring. We are tradition bound because change is our tradition!
A business that takes its responsibilities seriously and finds creative ways to engage with society is more likely to endure.
We believe that being responsible towards the environment is not just a matter of following laws, these are the baseline, the hygiene factors, it is about improving the business while protecting the environment. For example if we reduce waste, we save the costs of waste disposal or if we harvest rainwater and reuse it, we save the costs of fresh water. In so doing both the environment and the business derive long-term benefits. This argument extends to our work in the community as well. We follow a model where each employee is required to spend three paid working days working on a community project every year. This principle unleashes some 7,000 man-days a year (20 man-years) of the talent of Semsites to the benefit of their local communities. The business benefit from this volunteering is enormous both to the employees who derive a huge sense of satisfaction from having done something useful outside Secure; and to Secure because employees learn different skills when volunteering. A business that takes its responsibilities seriously and finds creative ways to engage with society is more likely to endure.