The Corporate Law Group

Skilled at Business

Does business take skill?  Are some good at it and others not so good?  Is it worth rewarding?  Or should we just reward folks who can dance, and act, and sing, and throw, kick, catch, or shoot balls? 

Well, anyone who’s succeeded at any business they started will tell you about those events, times, things that seemed overwhelmingly hard, but which they somehow, through skill, overcame.  Milton Hershey going bankrupt twice.  Ted Turner trying to raise funds for CNN a few days before payroll.  A recent great example is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. 

All entrepreneurs have hundreds of stories of the hard things they had to overcome.  Development, recruitment, finance, cost controls, partnerships, customers, needs met, commerce done profitably, balance sheets, parts ordering, lawyers, accountants, inventory control, business development, strategic relationships, funding, acquisitions, divestitures, Boards to be managed, sales channels, strategies, etc.  There is a reason why it is a college major, even if political science professors scoff at it as being too commercial.

And for every one of them who succeeded, there are hundreds who tried something interesting but couldn’t figure out how to make it.  But even those who failed are not to be dismissed, but rather celebrated because they tried.  Tried to do something new; tried to do something they thought we wanted, they thought would improve our lives.  They were working for us even if we didn’t know it.  Working for what Jay Snelson called, “The consumer bosses.”

If business doesn’t take skill, then why do some succeed and some not?  Singing takes skill.  At several things too; pitch, tempo, key changes, speed, presentation, improvisation, air control, relationships with the band, dancing, tour managers, showmanship, personal managers, promoters, disc jockeys, social media.  Why do so many of us recognize that, but we can’t recognize the skill involved in business?

And why do those people work in business?  Usually they are just as passionate about what they do as any athlete or actor.  They love baking brownies and so they get up at 3:30 a.m. to do that for us.  They are committed to making excellent surfboards, or pickles.  Do you really want the government making ice cream instead of Ben and Jerry?  Knock off that socialist nonsense unless you want government cheese the rest of your life.  

So, next time you see a business person succeed, thank them if you enjoy their product or service, for creating that or you.  Don’t envy them and want to take their stuff.  Don’t call them greedy because they figured out how to scrape off a 4% profit margin to stay in business.  Greedy because they provided a job for someone else.  If they aren’t doing something useful for someone or offering a wage that will attract talented workers, they’ll go under soon enough.  Rather, rejoice in the fact that the world was made a better place for some people by the scone, phone, or trombone they made.  That took skill!