A survey of the entrepreneurial landscape reveals what seems to be essentially two types of entrepreneurs. One is an idea that someone had, pursued it, and was able to make money for a time. In fact, the business becomes a cash cow for the owner and the employees alike. A cash cow for this article’s purposes means a passion for a product or service was not the motivating factor for the owner and it is not for the employees either. Owners and employees alike take from the revenues and leave the business to run itself, assuming it will always be there. And that may happen for an entire generation in some cases. Look at the brands that once thrived that are now obsolete or already dead.
The other is the person who took an idea from something that is close to the heart and developed a business enterprise for a product or service for something about which others seem to be passionate too. Like a surfer who developed a line of surfer activewear or a mother who was a fantastic baker and, from baking cookies for her children, grew an on-line healthy goodies business. Because the raison d’être is the passion and not just the revenues generated by it, those business owners follow market trends and do not just milk the business. They add and discontinue products and services, not according to leftover inventory, but according to market trends. Google is a great tool for that task. In so doing, their businesses will not likely grow obsolete. A common example is fast food franchises. There was a time when burger restaurants did not sell fish sandwiches or chicken sandwiches too. As eating habits shifted, those businesses realized that options to beef were compulsory if they wanted to remain a viable business.
But Is Serving Two Masters Not Impossible?
One American Clergyman and author said business is religion and religion, business. He further states more or less than a religion not made in a business is a powerless religious life and that he who does not make a religion of his business has a life of commerce with no character.
Most small business seminars and such teach that starting a business takes all-out effort. A one-hundred-percent commitment plus. Aspiring entrepreneurs are advised that the entire family unit has to be on board for the venture to have any hope for success. Why, then, would anyone do it? For selfish gain, why indeed? But if one has a passion and it is a means to serve the world and meanwhile earn a living, then it is a worthwhile temporary sacrifice for the longer-term good. Parenting is a 100% plus commitment but that does not stop people from becoming parents, so, why would the same commitment deter a person with a passion for fulfilling his or her professional mission in life?
What Is the Real Root of Wanting the Loot?
Yours truly has not ever heard anyone articulate the thought yet there have been those who seem to entertain it. They wonder if making money from owning a business is a violation of a belief system – a sin – and whether most ignore the doubt.
Regardless of one’s personal views of the old writings, there are nuggets of wisdom found there. The Bible, for example, has teachings about shrewd management, the charging of interest, the forgiveness of debt, the principle that money grows bit by bit more so than by wild extremes, that its possession is not a raison d’être, and the practice of fair scales in the marketplace.
Why Can One Not Save His Cake and Eat It Too?
Similarly, another unarticulated yet entertained thought is wondering whether one can run a business and make an honest profit while really giving people what they pay to receive. Are dishonest scales, unkept promises, unrealistic promises, and outright lies the only guarantors of monetary gain? Some have even gone so far as to say any successful businessman is one who has cheated others.
Such battles with conscience result from a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between earning an honest return for a product provided or service performed and greed. The 70s World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary has one enlightening definition of greed – “wanting more than one’s share”.
“…Say It Now…Say It Loud…Say It Clear…During the Living Years…”
The poignant lyrics of the Mike & the Mechanics song, The Living Years, resonate with two messages applicable to entrepreneurs.
The first is that life is cyclical – most especially business. An opportunity one has now will not be there forever and no one can predict its duration. The second is that not agreeing on every point is not a reason to forfeit the opportunity.
A business opportunity is lost when consumers are not told. Let them decide if they want it. Some entrepreneurs may fail to capitalize on an opportunity because of a perceived notion that the proposed product or service violates a belief system. Does it really? Or is it only someone else’s personal objection?
An Impossible Choice Like Sophie’s May Become Inevitable
Some entrepreneurs are held back by the fear of a choice that will scrub the very fibers of the inner being. Choices are not always clear of right or wrong. There is a time to overlook others’ actions, words, and attitudes regarding belief systems. People will prioritize differently, a fact evidenced in the factions in Islam, in Judaism, and in Christianity. The challenge is knowing when to take a stand and when other questions are more important. Is the point of contention about a tradition instituted by religious leaders and, therefore, a take-it-or-leave-it proposition or a sacred vow? Cowardice when conviction counts can crush a business.
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