The Change Agent is Brian Sibley. He lives, works and plays in Bellingham, Washington.
Good theory. I love it. Thank you for posting
Hi, Brian… I just found your blog post about my book.
You’re correct, my interactive decision maker is just to be cute. But it addresses the truth that a business doesn’t have the ability to accomplish any mission, no matter how noble, if it isn’t profitable.
Providing healthcare and paying a living wage is something companies do do with a profit motive. Companies need employees, and employees choose companies based on benefits, salary, etc.
I see that you work just across the street from me, so I’d like to invite you to meet for coffee or lunch; I’d love to discuss your comments and thoughts on the role of businesses in society. I’m pretty flexible on schedule; you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am also pasting part of the chapter containing the business-decision-making-flowchart below. I hope you’ll agree that it contains a much less cynical, and un-biblical, motive for profit than the one you attribute to me in your blog post.
Thanks for your time and consideration,
Profit is Why You are in Business
Everybody understands that businesses exist to make a profit. Profit is so much a part of how we understand our society that when an organization is set up for any other purpose we explicitly label it a “non-profit” organization.
Maybe because it sounds greedy, small businesses in particular do not generally talk about profit. Instead they focus on their secondary purposes: to help individuals find the best life insurance at the lowest rates; to provide a worry-free roofing future; to bring the authentic taste of Chicago deep-dish pizza to Podunk, Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, many people get so wrapped up in the secondary purposes of their business that they lose sight of the primary purpose. I was one of them.
Profit enables you to pursue your other goals
In the early days of my business I was consumed with growth and with “the mission”. We sell Bible software, so it was not difficult for me to see our work as something nobler than just making a profit. I believed that success meant providing our useful tool for Bible study to as many people in as many countries in as many languages as possible.
Business is about numbers and I was a true devotee of the numbers. I tracked gross revenue, employee headcount, number of customers, countries served and languages supported. I made decisions based on growing those numbers. A lower price will sell more units? Let’s lower the price. A single customer asked for a Swedish version? Let’s build a Swedish version.
It wasn’t that I completely ignored profit. I checked in once in a while to see that we still had one. I just didn’t worry too much about how big it was and I did not take the time to find out exactly where it came from. In a high-growth business like ours, I reasoned, we were investing in the future, not trying to make money right now.
Rapid growth, some outside investment, and some very profitable projects held trouble at bay for a few years. But when it caught up with us it hit us hard: on sales of $4.6 million we managed to lose around $900,000. It had been our best year by every other measure. We had higher revenue, sold more units, and employed more people than ever before. We had simply failed to make a profit. In the months that followed our continued losses threatened our survival. I began to realize that if we did not make profit the focus of our efforts I would have neither the luxury of pursuing our mission nor the convenience of a place to live.
Making a profit is what enables a business to accomplish its mission. Profit needs to be the first priority or you will not have a chance to pursue any others.
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