What is Good Business? – Free Ebook

business has rarely been so unpopular capitalism is in serious disrepute a lot of people are convinced that businesses as their structure today simply don’t properly serve our best collective interests yet a world without business scarcely seems realistic the challenge isn’t to do away with business its to feel our way towards a better version here are five things we think are necessary for decent humane and profitable business culture as human beings there are things we need and that are genuinely good and important for our flourishing and then there are things we merely desire that appeal to our appetites but aren’t connected up with anything sincere or worthwhile the problem is we aren’t good at identifying and holding on to the distinction we’re not very good at knowing what’s really good for us this has created a great temptation for capitalism for the standard capitalist it doesn’t matter much what you make your money from it could be needs or desires you could be selling shoelaces crude oil nanotechnology handguns the collected works of Tolstoy this is the classic defense for selling [ __ ] capitalism has not traditionally been interested in the source of its profits the idea is to make money from supplying whatever people happen to be willing to pay for but capitalism becomes evil when it explodes our inability to distinguish our needs from our desires when large numbers of businesses sell people stuff that they desire which in all honesty they don’t need so as a first basic point good businesses should be defined not simply by whether they’re profitable or not but by what they make their profit from only businesses that satisfy our true needs immoral it’s hard to make any business work it’s doubly hard to make it work when you’re trying not only to make money but also to make it from needs rather than desires bigger fortunes could be made faster selling french fries than stone-ground bread or running gossipy sensationalizing newspapers than serious broadsheets strip clubs make more money than book shops status driven luxury brands are more successful than Fairtrade cooperatives it’s harder to make things which are both appealing and good because the enterprise need to solve two big problems rather than just one the laurel producer has to master both seduction and goodness lots of people have mastered seduction think of how good those ice cream and doughnut manufacturers are at eroding our willpower and better natures and a fair number of people have mastered goodness think of those worthy or steer people who work in ecological services or run websites bringing news of appalling misdeeds in the factories of the developing world but very few have mastered both arts seduction and goodness it’s not impossible it’s not the goodness makes seduction impossible or the seduction rules out goodness it’s just that the target is smaller and far far harder to hit but that’s what we need to aim for the great challenge of our age is to make goodness not just its own reward but also deeply appealing to many to fuse goodness and seduction in the Utopia relationship therapy would therefore end up having some of the charm of a gelateria what we want above all from our work money aside is that it be meaningful what is meaningful work a meaningful job is any occupation which gives you a feeling that you are in some way through your labour either reducing suffering or increasing the level of fulfillment of others that you are leaving the world a slightly better place than you found it the more meaningful a job the less money matters people will be ready to enlist in the army and die for the defence of their nation for a very low salary or think of the sacrifices made by explorers environmentalists nurses or people at the literary end of publishing motivation comes from serving and Noble cause good businesses are those who reward their employees not just with cash but also with that equally valuable currency meaning many people at the top of capitalism already have enough money to feed 12 generations and yet still they push for high returns 30 percent per annum rather than 3 which would be enough to keep ahead of inflation the important thing to grasp is that though these captains of business want to make money deep down if they understood themselves better they’d realize they aren’t in it for the sake of the money what they really want is to respect honor and love that comes in our society for having been known to have made lots of money this holds out an important clue for how we should reform society by making honor and respect more reliably available to those capitalists who choose to run their businesses in noble ways satisfying needs not desires and giving meaning to their workforces the way status is currently distributed directly rewards the worst kinds of capitalism it directs honor to wealth without asking skeptically enough how the wealth was accumulated that’s something we’re all responsible for when we pay undue attention to the yachts and the parties how impressed we are by money is part of what keeps business people who are generally narcissistic ego driven personalities going people become moral capitalists when they can accept a lower return on capital in the name of producing meaning kindness and goodness and we become a moral Society when we give honor and respect not just for those who’ve made a lot of cash any old how those who made a bit of cash doing good things typically the price of a product or a service doesn’t actually take into account the full cost of producing it because some resources have inadvertently been given free to the producers the land has been polluted and the workers health destroyed but the consumer isn’t paying we talked a lot about low prices we don’t talk enough about just prices a just price is the price that is correctly factored in the true costs of production in a good society the just price would be the normal price whenever a supplier provides something below the just price whenever there is as we wrongly call it a bargain a shortcut is being taken somewhere the company has to be offloading some of the cost they must be treating someone badly they must be skimping on quality without admitting it a society gets collectively more moral we should take immense care about the path any product took on its way to our lives in a good business the price of the product should reflect the cost of supplying a thing while treating everyone and everything even the trees in the rivers kindly along the way 80% of business should in a perfect world come from the top 20% of our needs at present the overwhelming share of business activity is directed at meeting the lower basic needs moving about energy food shelter a present capitalism is mainly directed at the bottom layers of Abraham Maslow’s famous pyramid of needs we understand we have higher needs for love self-esteem creativity and so on but we don’t usually imagine that commerce can help us we’ve got a prejudice that paying for something can’t be connected to goodness but it could be the fact is Commerce has only barely scratch the list of our true needs we need to live in beautiful cities we need to have good advice and psychological support we need to manage our emotions we need to sustain strong families across generations we need to cultivate our minds we need to live in societies in which it’s normal to be wise kind and self-possessed these are vast immense undertakings and we have collectively a huge way to go the fact that these ambitions don’t look the same as constructing highways or building pipelines doesn’t at all mean that they’re divorced from work business or Commerce their goods and services which have to be created by ingenuity organization and effort in short I work far from worrying about what we might do when there is no more work we should be preparing ourselves for almost endless labor to reach the true goal widespread fulfillment it’s entirely understandable that many people are disillusioned with capitalism because business as we currently know it is not as good as it should be our objection is not in fact to business as such but to business that’s bad the response is not therefore to wish that business would go away but to work to improve it so that one day it comes to properly satisfiers as consumers and as producers you

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