I think most of us equate business with money (if all this seems boring you can probably skip the business lesson paragraph and just click on the links in the second paragraph) . All businesses want to make a profit, that is they want to sell their goods/services at a price which is above the cost of what it takes to produce them. Moreover they want the sales (in terms of quantity) to cover their overhead (given their sunk costs, break even point, and any additional expenditures) so their profit margin meet expectations and accommodate future growth. And sadly all this “businessese” is pretty basic (ahem…pretty boring) and the foundation of what some companies operate their businesses with. So if we want to encapsulate what I just said, it would be that a lot of business, especially larger corporation, focus on money first and work out the details later. As a side note, corporations are legally a standalone entity meaning no one owns the business but is run by shareholders and a board of directors, so that is why a lot of times they can seem cold and detached.
Originally the marketplace was designed to trade goods that are needed for other goods, monetary system(s) were developed to create a reliable and consistent value for trade.
As an example: before you could trade three apples for two oranges and two oranges for five pears, but end up trading four pears for three apples. All things being equal three apples should be equivalent to five pears, not four.
But somehow it became the goal of some businesses. Alright, enough of that, after all that gibberish here’s my point that thinking money as the foundation for business is does not equate with success. One business that has had a lot of success but has an altruistic motive is TOMS shoes. Created as a business case in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, when on a trip to Argentina he witnessed barefoot children in need of shoes. His business plan was motivated by the desire to provide these little ones with shoes, for each pair of shoes sold one pair of shoes would be provided for a child in need of shoes. In 2006 he went back to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes. To me this is success, this is business done right. It’s business with a purpose. Conceptually I think it’s something that is repeatable, and it is a business model worth repeating.
To date, over a million pairs of shoes have been given away to those in need.
Additionally, one of the benefits of a business founded with a generous purpose is that the business culture within the business is a pleasant environment to be in. Businesses that offer their employees a respectable wage, a positive mission statement/purpose, and positive working environment maintain their employees longer, you know why, because they’re happy. I think instead of focusing solely on money (and I am not saying to get rid of accounting), you should focus on people. What will make your end-user customers happy (I know the concept behind Toms prompts me to purchase whether or not I love the style)? What makes your employees feel happy to work there (why not work for a cool boss who lives on a boat and has given himself the title of Chief Shoe Giver)? What makes your vendors and supplier happy to work with you (vendors if you sell a good product and distribute as promised/suppliers that you order a sufficient amount and pay on-time)? Because I do think about these things, and I think that a business that puts the people first and works out the details later can also be successful, it just takes a lot of passion and effort. But anything worth doing in life is going to take that.
I know in this economic times a lot of us may not have enough yet to start our own company. But if you were to think about it, what type of company would you have? What type of work would make you happy or what do you dream of doing?