All day long, we are bombarded and surrounded by people arguing, on screen and over the airwaves. It’s like you’re living in a house where four of the five people living there argue constantly, compete with each other, lay around complaining, and force others to cater to their every whim.
Surrounded by all this noise and conflict, you’d think that was the most important thing.
While the four people are arguing all day, the fifth person goes to work every day and makes enough money to feed, clothe, and house all of the other people in the house.
Those “four people” are politicians, people yelling at each other in social channels, TV commentators, journalists on both sides, celebrities being negative and crazy . . . you know.
That fifth person, the one everyone takes for granted, is “business.”
What is business?
Business is, at its most basic, one person (or a company run by people) providing something that someone else is willing to pay for. That’s pretty much it.
Success in business is the continual identification of what your customers want, and figuring out how to give it to them while still making a profit. Company owners and workers need to take money home, so there must be enough to pay them.
It costs money to give customers what they want; to pay for the people, materials, systems, rent, and more. It’s unfortunately pretty easy to spend more than you’re taking in, if you are not careful. But it can be done, and it is done, by millions of business people every single day.
Why business is where it’s at
In all those places where people argue with each other, business is frowned upon in today’s world; we see people protesting against giant corporations and “greedy capitalists.”
But did you know that small businesses make up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms? That 52 percent of those are home-based businesses? That while there are 18,500 companies with more than 500 employees, there are 27.9 million—yes, million—small businesses. Small businesses accounted for more than 63 percent of the net share of new jobs in the past six years.
“Business” is all around us. Business is how things get done. Even government projects are carried out by contractors, businesses specialized in, say, building bridges, who are hired by the government to create that bridge.
“Business” is the store where you buy food, the gym you go to two times a week, the pet groomer you hire, the daycare center that takes care of your kids during the day, the place where you bought your car and then later get it repaired.
Business adds value to the world. Businesses actually create something from nothing.
A problem that had no solution now has a solution because someone thought, “No one has solved this problem yet. I think I know how to solve it. I’m going to create something new to solve this problem, and start a business selling the solution.”
That is how 99.9999999 percent of all businesses start, in my experience.
We don’t see this on our many screens, because, well, frankly, it’s kinda boring. No one is arguing; there are no beautiful celebrities doing outrageous things. Instead, people are quietly taking responsibility and solving problems and helping others. Those types of activities never get the same attention as those at the other side of the spectrum.
Business is certainly not boring to the person who came up with the idea, and then spent the next weeks, months, and years bringing it to life—and making enough to support themselves and their families. It’s also not boring if you are working in a company that cares about its workers and its customers, helps its workers spend most of the day doing what they love, is filled with helpful and cooperative people, and is continuously striving to improve.
If you are going to spend 8 hours a day somewhere, that’s not a bad place to be.
Starting a business and making it work can be one of the most exhilarating and satisfying things that that person will do in his or her lifetime. It’s also a challenge. According to the Small Business Administration, 30 percent of new businesses fail in their first two years; 50 percent of them fail within 5 years; and 66 percent fail during the first 10 years. Of course, that means that your chances of succeeding in your first two years are at more than 60 percent.
And, if you spend less than you take in, and keep looking for new ways to help customers, and work hard to create a pleasant place to work, you will definitely be among the successful ones.
Bravo to all brave businesspeople. I salute you.