Friday, June 25, 2010

A post from "Anonymous" says: "I say thank God for those entreprenuers and business people who take risks and conquer challenges that create jobs, jobs, and jobs. Rather than judge the motives of business people why not judge the fruit of what they produce and the impact on society. What about the large foundations that are founded by very successful business people? Perhaps there is the real answer as to what they value and why they work so hard to fulfill their pledge to shareholders. By the way, I am broke after trying to create a business but I hold no animosity to those who have been successful. Just a thought."

Dear Anonymous

Many thanks for your thought. The question of whether we should thank God or the entrepreneurs concerned is a moot one. And I find nothing to "judge" in the motivations of businesspeople, as the motivation is simple: to make money.

One hopes that they want to make money within the law. But the evidence worldwide is mixed.

Because businesses always seek to remake the law to suit themselves (the latest evidence of this is in today's newspapers, which report that companies from one sector are winning the battle to shape the new regulations which will govern that sector of business).

Note that the business which tries to influence laws and regulations so that laws and rules suit society as a whole is rare.

You also ask: "What about the large foundations that are founded by very successful business people?". Well, what about them? No doubt they do good. But they do good with money that may have been earned (as in the case of Andrew Carnegie, the first great "philanthropist" of modern times) by paying his workers and his suppliers less than he should have....

So in order to make a moral judgement, we have to look not only at the uses that the profit is being put to, but also at what that profit was originally made in a legal, ethical, humane and environmentally responsible way. Otherwise the consequences of the business activity as a whole generate more negative effects than positive ones.

Specially when one considers the lifestyle to which the business person or family treated themselves while running their business.

So there are many aspects to take into consideration.

Please note what I am NOT saying. I am NOT saying that there exists no single business which obtains its profits according to the criteria mentioned above. Only that such businesses are fewer than we would like to believe.

My commiserations that your business venture failed. But I hope that you will have the time and the inclination (and the advice, if that is relevant) to reflect on the reasons that your business collapsed, and that, having learned your lessons, you will go on to build one or more really successful businesses.

As someone who has been involved in business for some 30 years, I know that success takes extremely hard work and infinite attention to detail, combined the capacity to maintain an overall perspective of the business, as well as a wider sight of what is happening in politics, economics, society and technology. Not easy at all....

And yes, if you can create a successful business on a moral basis, live modestly and use your profits for the public good, you will have done a wonderful job. You will in fact belong to the real elite of the world - people such as the Quaker business families which originally built up Cadburys and Wrigleys and Rowntree and
Very best wishes Sphere: Related Content

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