Category Archives for "Money"

Cartoon dolphins and waves

Freedom to Make Your Own Decisions

Freedom is never something that just happens.  We are all bound by constraints of circumstance and perspective.  This is as true for the wealthy as it is for the poor.  We are fooling ourselves if we believe money alone guarantees freedom.

It is tempting to think of lack of freedom as a matter of circumstance.  “If only things were different, then I would be free.”  It is our perspective or mindset that is just as binding on our lives as the circumstances we find ourselves in.   Indeed it can be our mindset that leaves us at the mercy of circumstance.

Alignment

So, to be free we must have a purpose; be free is to do something.  And we need the means to do it.  This is life where profit and values overlap.  To focus on profit alone is to live without purpose, but without profit your purpose is unfulfilled.

If you run a business you must master the art of marketing.  However, it is not some dark art formulated by myrmidons with jargon terms and slick salespersonship.  Marketing at its best is a congruent expression of your values and what you do.  You are bringing your vision or purpose into the light of day, expressed in everyday words and profoundly honest.

So, alignment of your marketing with your values and your offer is essential and your challenge is to align five elements of your business to lend it coherence and credibility.

Values

Let’s assume you know what your values are and want to see them expressed through your business.

Sometimes business people lose sight of their values as they work on their business.  Simply keeping up with everything there is to do means we don’t have time to reflect on our business.  If we are a lone worker, we are not accountable to anyone other than ourselves for our values.  To speak them to a listening ear, helps keep them in mind.

The other error we make is overemphasising values at the cost of business.  If we have a skill we know to be of value, the temptation to give it away or sell it at a low price can overwhelm us.  We must do justice to our contribution because otherwise we will in time have no contribution to make.

Offers

It is essential your offers align with your values.  Coaches and freelancers, base their decision to go into business on an acquired skill and their values inform their desire to learn that skill.  Some businesses have low-end products that allow them to use their skill with the greatest number of people and high-end offers that effectively subsidise their low-end offers.

This approach requires you to make sure you align all your offers with your values.  The prices of your high-end packages must reflect their value to their market.

Marketing

Your marketing must align with your offer and values.  So far, this is obvious.  Everything you say should be congruent with your values.  The challenge is congruence with your offer.

Let’s say you are a coach and your coaching practice is clearly values-based.  How can you use your skills as a coach to market your business?  Think of the advantages.  Your prospects will experience something of your skills as a coach.  They will get a better idea of what you offer and understand the commitment they make when they work with you.

Market / Problem

Be aware of the distinction between what you sell and what you deliver.  You sell solutions to problems in your market.  What you deliver is the means you use to solve the problem.

So, if you sell peace of mind you might deliver home security equipment or fitness regimes or financial advice or …

You need to align your marketing with your market and specifically the problem you solve for them.  You need to use language they understand and show you understand their problem (and can solve it).

If you get all this right and find clients, you will be able to point to success among your clients or customers.

Local Benefit

Finally, you can align your market with the wider benefits of your business to your community.  This is harder to pin down.  People often speak of outcomes, the changes that happen as a result of delivery of outputs.

So, if you coach coaches, their clients will benefit from your coaching.  If you help someone improve their health, their friends and family will benefit.

This is hard to capture but it is the ultimate result of your values and all the work you have put in.

Looking Back from Local Benefit to Values

So, if you imagine a line connecting values to offers to marketing to market to local benefit, you can stand at either end and look along it.  As you plan or review your business you can stand at the values end of the line and see how each element falls into place and follows logically from the one before.

Stand at the local benefits end of the line and ask, whether you can see your values in the outcomes of your work.  If not your values, whose?  Maybe you have done unintended good and so find new values you were not aware of.  Or perhaps you can begin to see where along the line your values are not fully expressed or indeed where your values are a problem!

If you are seeking freedom through business, then alignment of your values and your outcomes is essential.  It is hard work but it is work with a purpose and that is freedom.

If you found this post helpful, do let me know.  I’d be happy to write other posts with more details, on request.

Figures helping each other to climb bar chart

Investment in Other Businesses

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of doing well financially is an opportunity to invest in other businesses or projects.  There are three types of investment and I consider them in turn.

Gifts

This is the least engaged of the three types of investment.  You give away your money and do not expect any return.  At least, that is the purest form of gift.  Sometimes people offer gifts with strings attached.  So, you may be asked to produce outputs in exchange for a gift.  This gift is usually known as a grant.

If you actively seek donations then, if you have charitable objects, you are a charity (although not necessarily registered) and so must spend the money for the purpose it was given.  A corporate donor may therefore insist on outputs because their donation may in its turn be accountable under charity law.  Individual donors may be happy with an annual report or online feedback.

The Donor’s Purpose

From the point of view of the donor, giving to a corporate charity is perhaps the least engaged form of giving.  You hand all responsibility for the money to a charity that has credibility and can be trusted to spend the money to meet its objects.

A more engaged form of giving might be to give to a local charity, where you can see for yourself it is effective.  You know the people who run the charity and are happy they take on daily responsibility.  Your contribution helps them carry out their objectives.

Of course, there are gifts to family and friends.  Birthday gifts are usually given with complete freedom to use or spend them as the recipient desires.  They are the charitable object, as it were.  Some gifts are given in response to an expressed need.  But here it may be worth considering some other way of investing your money.

Another form of gift is money given away to strangers, most commonly for those who beg for money on the streets.  This is usually with no expectation of any particular outcome other than perhaps the relief of immediate suffering.

Loans

Loans are a more engaged form of investment.  These are contributions made in expectation the full amount will be repaid, possibly with interest.

The most formal approach might be a loan from a bank or similar financial institution.  One very common type is the mortgage.  But it also includes formal bank loans and informal loans through credit cards.

Loans, especially when offered to individuals, are the main reason there is so much debt.  Interest accumulates and increases the amount owed until it becomes difficult if not impossible to maintain payments.

The problem is ultimately, especially where you are investing locally, the debtor must make a repayment.  To insist on repayment to schedule is to effectively close down the enterprise you have invested in, if it is not in a position to repay.  It is hard to see how there can be anything other than a negative outcome for one or both parties, where the investment has not borne fruit.

The debtor in effect depends on the good will of the creditor and this will depend on the confidence the creditor has in the enterprise.  The creditor may find closing the enterprise is the only way they can recover their investment.

This is not to say loans are not a valuable form of investment.  A lot depends on how their structure and local circumstances.

Equity

Of these three types of investment, equity is the one that implies the closest relationship between the donor and recipient.  The donor takes a share of the profit or of the losses made by the recipient. If the enterprise comes to an end, they share the remaining assets in proportion to their original investment.

The reason this works so well is the interests of the donor coincide the recipient’s.  The donor must be confident the recipient can succeed but it is also in their interest to be sure the recipient does succeed.

A family member might enter an equity arrangement with a young person, for example.  They might offer their business experience as well as finance to set the young person in business.  The donor will see this as an investment and not entirely for support of the young person.  Any return can be reinvested in the same or other enterprises.

Some people invest in equity to generate income.  Some do this through stocks and shares but it is possible to receive income from informal equity arrangements.  You would simply draw on the business in the same way the owner might, you are in effect joint owners.  So, if you own 50% of the business, you receive £50 for every £100 profit.  That’s the principle and life is rarely as simple as that.

Conclusion

The question for those who wish to support local business is which of these types of investment are likely to be most effective in support of the local economy.  It is not possible to categorically say which approach is the best because so much depends on local circumstances.

The main thing to bear in mind is if you invest, do so with money you can afford to lose.  Don’t back one enterprise with everything you have.

Has this post been helpful to you?  Please let me know, especially if you would like me to expand on any point.

marketing business sales

Using Your Purchasing Power

In this sixth post about using money, I consider how you spend it.  With money you have purchasing power and you can use it to make a difference.  Imagine being able to purchase more expensive options because you know you can generate more money through your business.  The question is what to spend it on.

You can easily find inspirational videos that dwell on the fantastic advantages of financial freedom.  If you are a coach, the chances are you can do well but never achieve financial freedom, where income is coming in without the need to work.  Many coaches would not want it, as their coaching is something they enjoy.

Anyway, if owning a yacht floats your boat, then you know what you want and should go for it.  My concern is for those business people turned off by images of wealth and find them, well bad taste or even unethical.

Your Power to Choose

Making money is a powerful incentive.  I don’t intend to influence how you spend your money.  My point is an obvious one, really – if you want to make a difference, then you need to make money.  Why?

  • You need to be free of financial worries yourself. Paying for essentials should not ideally be a concern.  There comes a point where money worries dominate.  You have to take a job to pay the bills or draw benefits and jump through all the hoops.
  • The same applies for your family and dependents.
  • Most families prefer to do better than break even. Holidays, trips out, presents, memberships, subscriptions are all a part of participating fully and potentially ways you can support your local economy.
  • You need to support your business. You need to pay for overheads and costs as well as training for yourself and your staff.
  • If you give anything away or at reduced rates, you are in effect drawing on your profits. This can be difficult if you’re not making profit.

Not all these are essential.  But the third and last compete for your attention.  If offering a discount to a client in need, effectively means you can’t take your children on holiday, which do you choose?

Marketers will say in those circumstances you need to earn more.  Yes, I could earn more if I did something else, the question for me is do I want to do something else?  The choice is much deeper than: how do I spend the money I have?  It can amount to: am I doing the right thing?

How to Increase Income

So, what are the options, besides changing to another business?

  • Consider increasing prices. If you discount, you eat into your income but a similar percentage increase may make a massive difference.
  • Perhaps there are ways you can structure your business more efficiently. Coaches often find their coaching pushes out time thinking about their business.
  • Build up reserves of residual income through multi-level marketing (MLM). This might work for you if you can find time to build your marketing network alongside your business.
  • Part-time work and other sources of income. This is often how coaches start out and gradually reduce paid work as their own business takes off.
  • Invest in property, stocks and shares and similar.

The last three are all options that take time and time can be as scarce as money!  They are all worth considering.  Are there more?

Support for the Local Economy

Once you decide your lifestyle and find a way to generate the income you need, you have yet another choice.  One effective way to make a difference is support for your local economy.

To purchase from a local business achieves a number of things:

  • It helps keep money in circulation. Money spent with a local business is likely to be spent by the business owner, not extracted from the economy and hidden away in offshore bank accounts.
  • By supporting local businesses, you increase their diversity.
  • You might discover the new, offbeat or exciting product or service you didn’t know you were looking for!
  • You may find new business relationships and mutual benefits.
  • Their ideas might be adapted to the benefit of your business. I’m not advocating you do what they do more effectively and drive them out of business.  But many ideas can be adapted to different circumstances without harming the original business.

In summary, our purchasing power has an impact locally and so we should consider it a serious benefit our success brings to community.

Let me know if you found this post helpful.  Are there related topics you would like me to write about?

Lowest Price

Do You Undervalue Your Business?

Whilst it is possible to overcharge for your services, most coaches and consultants undercharge.  When your prices are too low, you undervalue your business.  This is the fifth post in my series about money and pricing your business.

Undercharging is a real problem for your business and the wider business community.  You make a statement about the value of your work.  You may be brilliant at what you do but your message to the world is “meh”! 

Perhaps worse is the possibility you undercut your competitors.  Perhaps you have too many clients because you have a good reputation and low prices.  Then the chances are you are running yourself ragged and collaborating with others to keep their prices down.

I said competitors, didn’t I?  Leaving aside some of these may be potential collaborators, the chances are they have a niche next to yours and distinct.  They may seem to be competitors but if there are enough clients to go round, what’s the problem?  Of course, if you undercharge and they do, sharing clients is harder because you all need more clients.  If everyone increased their fees they would all need fewer clients and offer them a better service.

How to Increase Your Prices

You should charge what you think you are worth.  Indeed, charge more than that!  It is not difficult to increase prices.  Just do it!  However, here are a few things to consider :

  • Your reputation – remember higher prices enhance credibility but you will need to reassure prospects using testimonials or other evidence to show you deliver what you promise,
  • Your marketing skills; it is not always easy to sell something at a high price and so you may need to learn to sell at a lower price and increase prices later,
  • Your packages – it is worth having more than one package so you can offer a choice, at one to one meetings.  Your packages’ quality is important and you need to offer something not only credible but irresistible.

So, let’s consider strategies to raise your prices:

  • Build your reputation and your offer and raise your prices as your confidence in your offers increases
  • Allow others to decide your credibility, if you get more enquiries than you can manage, now is the time to raise your prices.  As credibility increases, so should your prices.
  • Introduce a new low price offer, at a low price for the first cohort of purchasers.  Promise to increase the price at a certain time and do it.
  • Some businesses raise their prices by a low percentage every (say) quarter.  The increase itself is small but over time becomes high.  People who do this claim it is easier to do a lot of small increases than one huge one.  Neither they nor their clients seem to think it a big deal.  Perhaps it works.
  • With several packages, you have lower and higher priced options.  All your packages can increase price at the same time.  Sometimes, a low-end package with a low price is an opportunity for clients to try you out.  They’ll buy into your high-end packages when they have tried you.  But don’t assume everyone travels that route.  If you are credible, people who want quick results won’t mess about.

How to Manage Overcharging

Don’t bring your charges down!  Perhaps you find it hard to sell at your current prices.  Reducing the price devalues your offer, so what to do?  Here are a few possibilities to consider.  You may need to find a strategy that fits your business, don’t assume it’s the same for everyone.

  • First, do you know your offer is credible?  Review your offer; is it irresistible?  I’m assuming you can delivery on your promises.  Perhaps you are not clear about your benefits?  Work hard to get them clear.  Also, check over branding and especially personal branding. How do you come across?
  • Which leads to the next question, how do you manage marketing and sales?  Do you get out and find one to ones and if so, are you good at closing the deal?
  • Keep your highest prices steady and design lower priced offers.  You can upsell from a lower priced sale.  But perhaps most customers prefer something lower priced.  Make sure there is a real difference between your low and high-end offer.  The low-end offers should be good value but clearly different from the high-end.  They should involve less time for you.
  • Consider a relaunch of your high-end offer.  It’s always easy to improve an offer, so do it and consider a sales funnel or product launch. 
  • If you have a good reason, offer a discount to your clients.  Tell them the full price and then find a good reason to discount if the price is a barrier.

Remember, this is always to some degree trial and error.  As you get to know your market and offer, you become more adept at delivering something of value for what it is worth.

How do you keep your offers fresh, available to all pockets with realistic prices?   Tell me if this post is helpful.  If you have any questions about prices I would be delighted to have a go!

Egg timer and cash

Making Profit Saves Time

Most coaches and consultants undercharge for their work.  It is just as easy to overcharge.  If you are not finding clients perhaps you are overcharging, although it is usually not a good idea to bring your prices down.  I shall explore this in more detail next Wednesday.  Today I shall explain how making profit saves time.

Work Life Balance

We hear a lot about work life balance, primarily because so many people in employment work overtime.  When the demands of work are excessive, to the extent there is little time to do anything else, many people start to question why they are doing it.  The question may be a response to some life changing event such as a heart attack or diagnosis with a problem such as diabetes or stress.  Sometimes someone will simply realise other people have time to do stuff other than work.

The same applies when you are self-employed.  There may be fewer checks on your excessive working because you don’t have managers or colleagues to question it.

I met someone the other day who told me she can offer 3 one-hour consultancy sessions seven days a week.  That’s 21 sessions a week.  So, I asked her wouldn’t she rather work only 4 days a week.  She would – the question is: how?   She needs higher prices.  How to get to higher prices is a non-trivial question but at this stage I’m making the point.

You may be good at something you enjoy doing but the pleasure begins to pall if you have an endless sea of working days ahead with no let up.

Anything you do below the market value is an act of charity.  There is nothing wrong with that but understand what it means.  Imagine the balance sheet of a conventional business, where you subtract expenditure from income to calculate your profit.  If you work at a low rate or for free, you are in effect donating your profit.  If you work out the cost of your charitable work, you can add it to your income.

You may find you would make a profit if you charged for charitable work.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with pro bono work.  Many social enterprises do this and record the costs of what they give away as part of their profit.  This is sometimes called the triple bottom line, where you account for social and environmental benefits as well as financial profit.

There’s no reason a self-employed person can’t do the same but be clear.  It reduces your profit and increases the time you put into your paid work.  Perhaps it would be better to wait until you are making a profit and then spend it!

Spending the Time Profit Generates

So, let’s consider the time you spend if you have time to spare.

First, the internet marketing gurus will tell you about the wonderful leisure activities you can partake in once you have money.  You can pay for staff, not only for your business but also for domestic life.  Staff free up time.  Now you can sit back and enjoy life!

Of course, life isn’t like that.  Leisure time may be eaten up by domestic responsibilities.  You could employ a nanny to look after your children.  Is that what you really want?

So-called leisure time is the time you need to pay attention to other aspects of life.  Family, health, education are all aspects of a fulfilled life.  They are essential and you will certainly feel pain if you neglect them.

Employing staff is not a bad idea.  I won’t enter into the pros and cons here but point out something you may not have spotted.  When you have time freed by your higher income, you have more time for your business.

The business owner I mentioned earlier explained if she filled 21 sessions, she would have 60-80 clients.  Now I think these would be 60-80 unhappy clients.  If she could generate income to cover her needs from just a few clients she could spend more time with them (they’re paying her more remember), do research on their behalf, improve her skills through training and genuinely have time to develop her business.

The extra staff may not be needed; the extra time may be sufficient.  But staff do free up time you need to do what you do best, while they do the routine stuff you don’t really need to do but do now because there is no-one else to do it.

And with more time, you can invest further in your community.  I shall write about spending money on charitable or community work in a later post.  With more time you can afford to seek new investments of time or money in projects that interest you and benefit others.

Conclusion

So, more time for leisure and family, for doing your business better and for making investments in your community or charity work.

The challenge is to get there.  I may move onto this in later posts.  My non-directive consultancy specialises in how to get into this enviable position.  I’m happy to talk to anyone interested with no obligation.

Let me know if this post is helpful and if you have any questions for me to write about later.

Paying for Training Coaching and Marketing

In this sequence, I’m exploring the consequences of making money for the heart-based or values-centred business owner.  Last Wednesday, I covered earning, saving and giving money and business overheads and costs recently. So, today I focus on training coaching and marketing services.

Support Services in the Local Economy

There are thousands of support service offers online and in-person.  One decision you need to make is the extent to which you use local services.

In-person services mean face-to-face or online meetings between a coach or consultant and their customer.  Face-to-face meetings are popular, although sometimes online meetings are an advantage, for example if you are working on a website together.

In addition, many prefer local in-person services so that their payments support their local economy. If you are a coach or consultant yourself, there may be self-interest supporting a marketplace between business to business suppliers.

Local businesses engage in their local economy.  They can help you build contacts and find customers.  Another advantage is there may be opportunities for collaboration.  Many offer follow-up services to clients too.

There are advantages sometimes to using online services.  If the support you need is not available locally, you must go elsewhere.  You will bring new skills, learned online, to your locality.

Another advantage is online programmes do not need you to be somewhere at a specific time.  If the course is video or audio based, you take part at times that suit you.  You can use downloads in your car or whilst walking or jogging.

Using Support Services

Training

There are many training opportunities, some free and so it is worthwhile exploring what is available locally.

Usually, training courses run to an agenda set by the trainer.  They will have done their research and designed a programme that meets demand as they understand it. There may be opportunities to request items on the agenda.  These experiences may be opportunities to try something new.  Maybe you can engage a coach if the topic proves relevant to your business.

Some courses are accredited and this can be an advantage.  A certificate can be used to enhance your credibility.  It is possible to badge your website with some training providers as evidence you have a particular skill.

Coaching

The first point to make is coaching is not for novices.  Think of coaching as an opportunity to explore issues in-depth and confidentially with someone knowledgeable about your work but not directly involved with it.

Yes, of course, you may need a coach to work on some difficult period in the life of your business but successful businesses often engage coaches over the long haul.

There are two types of support: expert and non-directive.  An expert consultant usually offers a Done-for-You service.  They save you time and money because they know how to do something and will do it for you.  The assumption is you do not need to learn the skill they use.

Non-directive consultancy, often called coaching, is a Done-With-You service.  They may introduce new ideas and concepts but the focus is on equipping you to do something.  The key thing is you are in the driving seat.  The coach will help you decide a course of action, implement and evaluate it.  This is one reason some coaching schemes are better over a longer period, so you can see through a course of action together.

Marketing

Marketing services are usually expert consultancy and perhaps the big issue here is what you get for your money.  Are you seeking a DFY or a DWY service?  Is your priority to save time and get a job done or to learn it yourself?

You could engage a website designer, for example, if you have no interest in learning how to design and build a website.  You want someone who will design, build and test it for you.  Perhaps this is a less likely approach today when there are so many out-of-the-box website themes but it does depend on what you want.  A good theme may not always meet the needs of your organisation.

If you are planning to engage a marketing service you need to be a good consultor.  If you do not know what you want, you cannot brief the consultant.  the consultant will need certain information to do a good job.

Do your homework so you know if the consultant has met their brief.  If something doesn’t work, there are at least two explanations.  The expert is not necessarily as expert as they first appeared.  This is a tempting explanation but not the most likely one.  More likely, you did not provide an adequate brief or undermined the expert by constantly chopping and changing.  It’s your business, your money and so your responsibility.

Your business costs provide opportunities for other businesses and you can support a range of people by making good choices for your business support services.

Has this post been helpful?  Please tell me if it has and ask any questions you may have.  I can’t cover everything in a single post, so it is helpful to receive questions about issues I may have missed.

Earning, Saving and Giving

Last time I introduced the theme of making profit in a values-centred business. I touched upon drawings during my recent sequence about self-employment.  I didn’t say much about them and certainly nothing about the values that apply to this part of our economic activity. Values apply to three aspects of domestic finance: earning, saving and giving.

John Wesley, in his sermon 50 “The Use of Money”, wrote “earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can”.  Now I appreciate most readers do not feel bound by the teachings of an eighteenth century evangelical preacher.  But Wesley’s three points are still a useful ethic for the values-centred business person.

This is the second post in a sequence about use of money and so I shall not cover everything about use of money here.  Comment on anything you think I’ve missed but I may have held it in reserve for a later post.

Your Earnings and Your Value

“Earn all you can” implies no pressure to go beyond your capacity.  It is possible to live a dignified life on a low income.  It is not only possible to be happy on a low income, it is a great blessing if you can.

If you enjoy life, possibly you are earning enough.  Satisfaction means you have a degree of independence from the formal economy.  There are lots of reasons to be dissatisfied; the system can make life difficult for people on low incomes.  The same was true in Wesley’s day and one reason he advised his followers to “earn all you can” was the consequences of poverty he had seen in his travels around the country.

Those who earn more are able to share with those who don’t.  This was the expectation in Wesley’s religious societies.  Each member had to pay their dues but Wesley expected wealthier members to help poorer members.

Legitimate Earning

There is an implied expectation that earnings are legitimate.  This rules out income from crime and possibly other activities.  This is where values come in because it is difficult to legislate for what is legitimate income.  For example, for many years Methodists opposed alcohol and so presumably members working in the alcohol industry would be pressured to get out of it.  This would not be true today, where Methodists see alcohol in a more temperate light.

Should we, for example, be concerned about working in the banking industry, after the crash of 2008, precipitated by the dubious financial activities of some bankers?  These issues recur again and again.  Go back a couple of decades and there were similar pressures on bank employees where the banks invested in apartheid.

Wesley would be the first to claim your worth as a person has nothing to do with what you earn.  Your personal values might impact on what you choose as a career.  This is a matter for conscience and it is perhaps best to leave it there.

The Protestant Work Ethic influenced Wesley and he did not seem critical of the Industrial Revolution per se.  When we contemplate the inequalities that divide the world into wealthy and poor nations, the environmental consequences of the industrial world, we must approach earning from a different perspective.

What Does it Mean to Save All You Can?

There are three ways to approach this.

Control Your Spending

First, Wesley does not mean by “save all you can”, put your money in the bank.  He was not thinking of the banking system or even keeping reserves of money in a box under the mattress.

What he meant was to be constrained in what you spend.  Buy what you need and ideally no more.  Be content with the basics you need to live a full and dignified life.  The money you save is to be given away.

There is much to commend this approach today.  We tend to over-consume and this has a devastating impact on the world we depend upon.  Our children and grandchildren will find their lives impoverished because of the resources my generation has consumed. I’ve already touched on these issues under “earn all you can”.

Be Discerning About What You Buy

The second approach to wasteful and negligent business is to boycott it as a consumer.  Few can refuse to work for businesses that are immoral but most can choose to refuse to buy from them.

This is only part of what Wesley meant.  Do you really need that bottle of wine?  You could save the money and give it away.  Do you need that DVD?  And so on.  Ultimately, these are decisions we make as individuals.

But if you refer back to my last post about profit as the purpose of business, you will see much of the rhetoric around business is the promise of the good life, should you make the breakthrough.  And that argument is solely about personal comfort.  Many of the Internet gurus boast of their beautiful houses and their yacht.

This is the profit-centred ideology where profit grows personal power.  It is interesting some wealthy people still work out how to give all they can.

Support the Local Economy

There is a third way to save all you can, a way to save and give in the same act.  It is to favour local business over corporations.  If we want money to circulate in the economy it depends on our spending practices.

Hospitality

I shall return to giving later in this sequence and consider charity among other forms.  But I want to focus on one dimension of giving, hospitality.

I have major issues with generosity.  After decades of struggling with my own tight-fistedness, I know what a blessing generosity can be.  I live on my own and mostly care for myself.  I don’t have any problem with that.  Many people don’t care for themselves and self-care is something we all need to do.

I am grateful for friends generosity.  Being in business, I am much more aware generosity is essential for the conduct of my business as a coach.  I try to over-deliver on my promises and I’ve begun to understand when you can rely on income, hospitality becomes easier.

Business naturally leads to generosity or to accumulation of finance, where there is lust for power.

So, the first step before giving to charity and everything else the benefactor might do, is the basics of generosity and hospitality to those people around us.

What is your experience of earning, saving and giving?

Your Business Purpose: Supplier or Consumer?

Last Wednesday, I discussed the idea: profit is not the purpose of business.  The post was the first in a sequence about profit.  Today, I’ll explore another idea about the purpose of business.  A business is a supplier of goods, services and perhaps other things too!

Let’s start with maths. It makes sense for businesses to be suppliers. After all, if the business is a net consumer then it is making a loss. However, business is not so simple. Any product or service has costs attached.  It is not unknown to supply something and then discover its costs are greater than the charge attached.

Supplier of Information

The contribution successful businesses make to the economy is their knowledge about how to deliver things at minimal cost. This value triangle, helps us see how it is possible to choose any two out of three positive criteria. You can have a high quality service fast but you will have to pay for it. In this instance, the business passes its costs to the customer. The customer able to wait for the business to find low-cost suppliers, will find the overall cost to be lower.

This holds true for pretty much all businesses. What they do is identify a problem and find a low-cost solution.

The Entrepreneur

The entrepreneur keeps their eyes and ears open. They seek opportunities of potential benefit to their market and deliver them at low cost. They know, for example, how to persuade other businesses to offer their services at low or no cost.

The entrepreneur knows how to bring people together to work on innovative solutions to problems. They educate their contacts by providing opportunities to practice new approaches that solve problems, open up new markets, encourage collaboration and build the local economy.  Ideally everyone involved benefits, this mutual benefit is the badge of honour worn by all true entrepreneurs.

Usually, a good story results from the work of entrepreneurs. Do you have any to share?

Profit is Not the Purpose of Business

It’s time to talk about money.  Perhaps this is a taboo subject.  But we all need to come clean.  It is easy to reject profit and at the same time be mistress of the arcane art of grant applications.  Community activity, just like business, depends on money.

This quotation is from a contemporary economist from Scotland, called John Kay:

Profit is no more the purpose of business, than breathing is the purpose of life.

Profit, or money in general, is not the purpose of business but its means.  We think about money in the wrong way.  It is essentially dynamic and has purpose when in use.

As soon as we think of money as something to accumulate, we lose sight of its purpose.  The purpose of business is to do stuff.  This is true whether you are a business, a community organisation, a church, a local authority …

Two massive mistakes seem to pull in opposite directions.  Both believe business exists to generate profit.  Profit is essential for business survival, just as breathing is essential for human life.  We don’t live to breathe, do we?  So, why do we think business exists for profit?

Because the profit motive is the root of modern economic thinking. There are broadly two mistaken approaches: one embraces profit as the purpose of business, the other rejects it.

Profit as the Purpose of Business

A profit-centred approach leads to inequality.  Let’s clear away a few myths.  First, there is nothing wrong with some people owning more than others, so long as everyone is able to live with dignity.

A strictly equal society would be equal at sword point.  Only violence could enforce strict equality and those holding the sword would of course never succumb to temptation and accumulate more for themselves!

The problem is we are measuring the wrong thing when we measure personal wealth.  We need to measure wealth to understand inequality but the most important measure is money in circulation.

Societies can be less unequal than they are today.  They were, for example in the mid-twentieth century, when two world wars eroded inequality.

Profit-Centred Business Ideology

What does it mean when profit becomes the purpose of business?  It legitimises selfishness and dishonesty.  For the profit-centred business person the aim is to use any means to accumulate capital.

Regulation becomes offensive because in a completely unregulated market, personal power counts.  Lust for power erodes human relationships and apportions blame to weaker people.  Typically, subjugation of women and others on grounds of ethnicity happens because the powerful need groups they can blame when things go wrong.

This approach fixes on a mythical past when things were better.  It is a nostalgic worldview, based on pure fantasy.  But nostalgia plays well with many people and so populist movements can grow around charismatic business owners.

In 2016, we saw the triumph of Arron Banks in the UK and Donald Trump in the US.  Both are billionaires with the common touch.  Both focus solely on the profit motive.  They exercise a reactionary power that targets democracy because they believe democracy gets in the way of business.

They exist because the ideology of profit-first lends them legitimacy.  Their belief that business equates to profit leads to massive corporations extracting finance from the economy and so increasing inequality.  On a smaller scale, business becomes cutthroat, reducing collaboration and denying society the contribution businesses can make when they recognise a role beyond their immediate profit.

Rejection of Business Because of Profit

No-one can afford to make this mistake any more.  By rejecting business as a legitimate approach, we allow the political right to decide the purpose of business.  The pendulum has swung so far in that direction that it is almost impossible to get alternatives heard.

The reactionary right has succeeded because they have created a delusional alternative to the prevailing economic system that will in all respects be worse because it is committed to deregulation and is anti-democratic.

Radical movements do not have to reject business and indeed the idea they must is a late twentieth century mistake.  The problem radicals have is the mirror to the reactionaries, who focus on an imaginary past, while radicals live in an imaginary future.

Equality, democracy and all the freedoms we value depend upon people collaborating to resist those who would control our lives in the name of profit.  This is true here and now.

By rejecting business, radicals have allowed the right to control the market. Now the reactionary right are seeking political control, where they can deregulate our markets, increase inequality and destroy democracy.  They deploy their prejudices to mask their real values.  Deregulation benefits the corporations and disadvantages local businesses.  Those who would oppose them deny themselves the means to do so when they reject business as a legitimate activity.

So, this sequence will help you understand money, not in terms of nostalgia for a mythical past or dreams of an imagined future.  We need business rooted in present realities, building localised markets and mutual values.