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The business of business

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businessHave you ever felt like taking a long vacation on an island where you would be all alone to enjoy nature in the lush allure of green vegetation by a waterfall with its waters cascading in rhythmic cadence in what sounds like a musical serenade? Idyllic you would say.

But how long do you think you would last in this Hobbesian state of nature with no other soul in sight to keep you company? How would you source your supply of food, clothing, soap, toothpaste when you need them?

Even if you went with a generous supply of provisions, how long would they last before you need to replenish?

In the absence of telephone signals or even a phone, how would you keep abreast of developments in the outside world? What would happen if you suddenly fell ill? Which hospital would you go to and who would take you there? If you suddenly dropped dead, how would your family ever know or find your corpse?

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I can guarantee you that your romantic fantasies about solitary sojourn would not last for more than a few days at the most, after which you begin to feel the misery of loneliness! Why?

Humans were never designed to live in isolation. Even when ensconced by nature, Thomas Hobbes describes such a life as poor, nasty, brutish and short. After God created Adam and he began to function, God Himself said that it was not proper for Adam to function alone, hence the need for Eve.

Beyond the gender, Eve represents the principle of companionship and help. Inside every human being is something that another needs to function effectively.

Every human being is an embodiment of problems looking for solutions that are inherent in others. What that also means is that every human being potentially embodies a specific solution meant for solving a problem or the other for others.

When you hear the word “business”, what comes to your mind? Most of us regard business as the exclusive preserve of a few ‘Shylocks’ who simply practically rip the world off, minting money only to turn round and lord it over the rest of humanity.

And since we don’t believe that we can do anything that matches what they do, we cannot imagine ourselves in business.

Some define a business as a person or an organization that is involved in industrial, professional or commercial activities. For others, it is any venture into the trade in goods and services to the public.

These definitions inherently imply that the essence of business is to make profit. As valid as these definitions are, they are not too precise about the real intent of business.

In a seminar I hosted recently, I asked one question that I regularly ask when speaking to entrepreneurs, “Why are you in business?”

As expected, the answers I got ranged from a desire to put food on the table to being able to afford the good things of life. It all pointed to one thing, profit.

Not a few of them were shocked when I told them that everything in their answers pointed to the consequences or the reward for doing business well but none of it was a reason for business.

Then I hit them with what appeared to be a bombshell. The real goal of a business is to generate, grow and maintain customers! Simply defined, a business is any person, body or group of persons who have customers.

This might sound so simplistic but it points to one oft-ignored fact; everyone is in business or about to start one. I will explain.

If you provide any specialized service for any form of remuneration, you are already in business. What this implies is that the teacher who is employed by a school or government to teach pupils for a salary is in business. Indeed, everyone who is in employment for a salary is in business!

If you are job-hunting with the aim of providing a specific type of service, you are about to start a business! It just happens that the customer is the employer since he is the only one directly paying for the specialized service of the employee.

The ‘profit’ that comes from the transaction is determined by the mutually agreed consideration for the value or service offered.

The implication of this is that if the individual who offers that service can find a means of simultaneously providing the same service to other ‘customers’, he will make more money! Can a driver then drive two bosses simultaneously?

No, but he can provide driving services to more than two people simultaneously. How? He can help other people who need drivers to get one and collect a commission on the salaries of those he is able to get a job for!

The logic of all of this is that we profit by serving others. The happiest (and usually the richest too) people are those who are able to provide specialized services to others who in turn reward them for such services with some form of payment.

It so happens that the quantum or quality of reward is usually in proportion to the number of relevant people (read customers) that they are able to connect or sell such services to.

Check anyone who is succeeding significantly in legitimate enterprise. He is offering a specialized service or product to a significant number of people who are willing to pay for such services or products because such products or services solve problems in a significant way.

We were created to serve one another. Nobody prospers or profits all by himself. Your success is as much inside you as it is in another person that you need to connect your inherent value with or to in a way that makes them feel sufficiently satisfied to exchange commensurate value for it.

According to Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the world’s economy is sustained by two key words, specialization and reward. Anyone who understands the value of those words and can use them to good effect is guaranteed to be an economic success.

The world doesn’t significantly reward wandering generalities who dabble into any and everything. Such people send confusing signals to the universe, something that makes it difficult to consistently determine what they should be rewarded for.

Who would like to trust and handsomely pay a medical doctor who doubles as a lawyer? How about people who are into more than one type of business and are succeeding?

That happens only because they hire specialists in those lines of business who then provide services in a specialized way that customers are willing to pay for!

Prosperity begins when you can find that unique service that you can offer, something you have discovered about yourself or a skill that you have mastered so well that you can deploy to solve specific problems for a significant number of people. That is the business of business.

The beauty of life is that as long as there are problems to solve in the world, those who provide solutions will never be out of work. Or pocket!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

The post The business of business appeared first on Tribune.

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