- Scientology, a controversial topic, has frequently made news headlines and has many celebrity endorsements.
- Scientology is a religious organization that came about from the vision in a book written by L. Ron Hubbard.
- Through numerous court appearances, the Church of Scientology has had to prove it operates as a religious organization and not as a business.
Scientology has made the news for its controversial practices and celebrity endorsements over the years. Although you might not subscribe to Scientology's religious beliefs, you have to admit that the people in charge of this organization know how to run a business.
While your company might not be able to finance a Tom Cruise-caliber celebrity endorsement, there's a lot you could learn from Scientology's entrepreneurial approach to cultivating a following.
The face of success
When you think of Scientology, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Leah Remini probably come to mind. According to an article in The New Yorker, that's not a coincidence; the Church of Scientology apparently goes out of its way to recruit celebrity members who act as the public face of the church.
And if the Church of Scientology's impressive Los Angeles-based Celebrity Centre is any indication, the church's leaders have committed significant resources to the endeavor. And why not? What better way to get your message out than to engage respected leaders who can help sway potential customers to do business with you?
For small businesses, celebrity is much less important than influence. Identifying who in your community or customer base has the connections and the authority to drive business your way is key. In his book "The Tipping Point," Malcolm Gladwell calls these influencers "connectors" and "mavens." They are the people who influence other people to try new things, visit new businesses and buy new products.
Finding those people and communicating with them via social media, targeted email campaigns or in person is an inexpensive and effective way to spread the word about your business.
What is Scientology?
Scientology is a religious organization that was created by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer. Hubbard's 1950 self-help book, "Dianetics," was based on information about the relationship between the mind and the body. Scientology was created as an expansion of "Dianetics" that was later incorporated as the Church of Scientology.
The theory behind Scientology is that people are immortal alien beings, known as "thetans," that are trapped on Earth in human bodies, and that each thetan has lived several past lives on other planets and on Earth in a physical body. The goal of Scientologists is to reconnect with their past lives, to heal from past traumatic events and to gain inner strength and personal clarity in order to reclaim their true selves through a series of teachings and classes.
Religion or business?
Scientology is considered a religious organization, not a business. The Church of Scientology owns a vast array of businesses and corporations, but the leaders of this organization claim that all of their businesses and organizations are nonprofit and that all earned income from the businesses is put back into the church. From service organizations to publishing houses, there is a long list of business entities that are owned by the Church of Scientology. The Church of Scientology has legally been deemed to be a religious organization and not a business or corporation, which exempts the church from being taxed on the individual organizations that are owned and operated by members of the Scientology organization.
Members of the Church of Scientology are focused, in part, on self-improvement. Part of that process is identifying things about themselves they want to improve and then taking courses to learn how to grow and change.
After achieving success at each level, they move on to the next level. There is, therefore, always a goal to strive for and another level to achieve. The path to spiritual enlightenment and to higher levels of responsibility within the church is laid out clearly for members.
Do you provide the same opportunities for your employees? Can your best and your worst employees tell you what they need to do to improve and what awaits them at the next level? If the answer is "no," then perhaps you're not offering a clear enough path to growth and success. That can't be good for your business.
While it's true that not everyone in your organization will become a manager or a leader, everyone could surely take on a little more responsibility, do a little better and work a little smarter. Providing a clearly defined path to those goals will help you grow your business while making your employees feel like a valuable part of your organization.
When Hubbard died in 1986, his church could have easily died with him. Instead, a young leader from within the church stepped forward, took the helm and steered Scientology toward exponential growth.
That leader, David Miscavige, has been accused of mistreating and manipulating his employees and followers – a claim he denies. Miscavige is the public face of the church, its spokesperson and its commander-in-chief. By all accounts, no decisions get made without the input of the church's leader.
Is your organization's structure as clearly defined? Do your employees and customers know who runs your organization and what the chain of command is for everyday decisions as well as emergency situations?
If not, now is the time to put a plan into action. Creating a clear breakdown of who is responsible for what, who reports to whom and who will handle what in an emergency will go a long way toward easing confusion and eliminating misunderstandings in your business.