Conventional vs. Authentic Business Success

George Kao
3 min readJul 31, 2020

How do we measure the success of an authentic business?

In this post we’ll explore the different success formulas, and how that can inform our priorities and strategies.

The basic success formula for a conventional business:

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In other words:

Make the most amount of money with the least amount of effort.

This means squeezing as much profit as possible out of each customer, and to gain as many customers as possible… all of it done with the least amount of work possible.

With this core mindset, it’s easy to fall into schemes that are money-driven, to the detriment of one’s values and community.

As people try (and fail) with securing fulfillment and personal sustainability by conventional business measures, they might then overcompensate, and swing to the other side: they become interested in building a non-profit.

The basic formula for non-profits:

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How to make the most mission-driven impact, with the donations given? That is the key priority of non-profits and it’s a laudable one. (The factor of Effort isn’t often taken into account. In most non-profits, people work really hard for relatively little pay.)

Yet, some non-profits still get into trouble by inflating their impact numbers or going about their mission in ways that compromise the well-being of workers or society.

Authentic Business aims to be a middle way between these two extremes of conventional business and non-profits.

The basic formula for the success of an Authentic Business:

Impact multiplied by Values
divided by
Prices multiplied by Effort

In other words, how can we maximize two things:

(1) the impact we make with our business…

(2) that’s aligned with our values?



George Kao

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"