There’s no doubt that entrepreneurs can change the world. But in the article, “What’s a Business For?” written by Charles Handy he points out how greed, lying, and corruption can take a business down a very dangerous path.
He explained the following:
“Markets rely on rules and laws, but those rules and laws, in turn, depend on truth and trust. Conceal truth or erode trust, and the game becomes so unreliable that no one will want to play. The markets will empty and share prices will collapse, as ordinary people find other places to put their money.”(Handy 3)
A business, or even an economy, will not thrive under deceit and greed. When people feel like they are being taken advantage of, lied to, and tricked they will protect themselves and their families and find an alternative.
Handy explains how fragile trust is. Once a company damages trust with it’s customers it’s very difficult if not impossible to repair. A customer will not feel the same way about the business because they will always have that experience of being deceived. This hurts a company’s image and reputation.
It’s especially important in this day and age to have good customer experience in business. To be truthful and provide a positive customer experience as people who have a bad experience will make sure all their friends know about what their experience. There are sites based on this premise to share information about businesses and leave reviews to either encourage other people to go to that restaurant or to buy a product from a company or they use these review sites to warn people to never do business with a company they had a bad experience with.
Handy talks about a concept called real justification for businesses. What this means is a business needs a reason to exist, a real purpose that they serve. He illustrates this through the following:
“We need to eat to live; food is a necessary condition of life. But if we lived mainly to eat, making food a sufficient or sole purpose of life, we would become gross. The purpose of a business, in other words, is not to make a profit, full stop. It is to make a profit so that the business can do something more or better. That “something” becomes the real justification for the business.”(Handy 5)
Essentially what this means is if our purpose in life was to just eat we would all be incredibly obese and our quality of life would be terrible. So the purpose of a business shouldn’t be to just get rich. With that type of thinking, if someone starts a business with a selfish desire to just get rich and they don’t take thought for anyone else then his circle of change and positive influence is incredibly small. Now imagine if that’s what everyone did when starting a business was just to get rich and not help anyone else.
There are a few things that would happen in this scenario, poverty would be much higher than it is now because charity contributions would be incredibly low or non-existent. The employees working for greedy corporations would be treated less than human making minimum wage and barely able to pay to live. This would have a huge effect on mental health, it would effect people in customer service. Because people who don’t feel heard or valued do not provide the best customer service. By having greedy leaders in business it affects the entire company.
But when you have a company that values it’s employees, provides perks, and even does service for the community the business thrives and so do it’s employees. I worked for a company that cared so much about it’s employees that it became a sanctuary for many of it’s employees. It was a refuge and the company thrived. They became a multimillion dollar company and partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry.
This company was honest, compassionate, even the customer service team was treated like they were one of the most important departments in the company and they were recognized for their outstanding customer service. This company achieved such good moral because of the culture they cultivated.
In fact, Handy talks about how honesty and a vision are solutions for companies so they can succeed. A company should always be honest and have a vision to help others their employees.
“A good business is a community with a purpose, and a community is not something to be “owned.” A community has members, and those members have certain rights, including the right to vote or express their views on major issues.”(Handy 5)
The company I mentioned before treated us like a family we were definitely (at the very least) a tight-knit community. We came together and solved problems, we ate together, drank together, laughed, and even cried together. The company cared about its employees. They were honest and generous in providing bonuses and even made sure our basic needs were met. They looked out for us. They know that life isn’t easy and provided us with free food every week knowing that everyone faces unknown battles and having free food can make all the difference for some, and it did. Twice a week those who couldn’t afford food knew that they would get free food at work.
This company didn’t treat its employees like property, its employees were not just there to make the CEOs rich. The company was established to help small businesses and create a work culture where people can learn and thrive in their careers to find a successful path in life. The company values have always been focused on helping others.
A business built on honesty, and a vision to help others will take that business to a level that a business founded on greed will never attain.