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What's The Role Of Businesses?  
User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 8771 posts, RR: 42
Posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 1499 times:

Hello all,

I decided to take one issue from an earlier thread of mine:

Why Are Unions Regarded So Poorly? (by Aloges Feb 22 2007 in Non Aviation) and more specifically this reply

and ask for opinion n this rather general question: What are businesses for? I agree with the point made in the reply linked to above, to me Europeans are more likely to see businesses as providers of livelihoods than Americans, not really an idea about other countries/regions.
Public consensus "this side of the pond" (exceptions apply, as always) still seems to be that businesses have not only an obligation to provide fair wages to their employees, but also to adhere to high "fairness" standards. Now, I'm very certainly not saying they all do all of that, but the expectation seems to be stronger here in Europe than in the US, with these expectations sometimes bordering on the absurd.
In the US, a country that will probably never lose its "land of opportunity" fame, there seems to be a much stronger laisser-faire attitude towards employers and a very strong expectation of getting "the best deal in town" all day, every day. The former can mean that massive job cuts are accepted quicklier than in Europe, but it also means that not just employees get second chances, but employers who have failed get them as well.

All I said to expand on my question is rather vague, and yes, I do ask mostly for opinion. But please do keep it civil and don't bicker.  Smile Thanks for your time!


Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineVikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 10350 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 1491 times:

I'm actually more of the opinion that businesses are there to provide livelihoods.

You can provide whatever service you want; if you do it well, you'll make money. And you'll be able to employ others, who will also make money.

Businesses do not HAVE to bow to the public. But they WILL if they want to make money.

Quoting Aloges (Thread starter):
but it also means that not just employees get second chances, but employers who have failed get them as well.

Is it difficult to get a second chance as an employer in Europe? I'm sort of curious what exactly you mean.

~Vik



How can I be an admiral without my cap??!
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 1486 times:

Quoting Aloges (Thread starter):
Public consensus "this side of the pond" (exceptions apply, as always)

And of course, the exception is pretty much (as usual) Britain, which is far closer to the American system than the mainland European one. Indeed, the City of London is the most rampant example of naked capitalism of any of the major financial centres, which is why everything (and I mean everything) is for sale, including the stock exchange itself.

There's a reason the French talk about Anglo-Saxon economics.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 8771 posts, RR: 42
Reply 3, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1453 times:

Quoting Vikkyvik (Reply 1):
Is it difficult to get a second chance as an employer in Europe?

It wouldn't necessarily be on a regulation level, but on a personal and/or "inter-institutional" one. From what you hear on political magazines on public TV (i.e. not bound to lobbyists or economical interest) you can hardly dream of opening a second business in your life if the first one fails, e.g. due to bad credit that someone else's fraudulent behaviour gave you.

In even vaguer terms, people here are more stubborn to forgive about non-disastrous financial trouble than they perceivedly are in the US. I got that bit about "second chances" from (yet another) public TV documentary on German emigrants, two guys now running a business in Florida were quick to agree that this was exactly the image they got in the US so it's pretty subjective.

Anyway, back on track.

Quoting Banco (Reply 2):
And of course, the exception is pretty much (as usual) Britain, which is far closer to the American system than the mainland European one.

 checkmark  Didn't take long for a Briton named "Banco" to make that connection.  Wink These three threads (on the Thatcher statue, unions and now businesses) are all in the same context, at least that's the intention, and post-Thatcher Britain appears as an example for a "US style economy" in Europe every time. Currently, that's much to your advantage although the negative effects have often been mentioned here.



Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineAAce24 From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 849 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1450 times:

The sole role of a business in America is to make a profit, at all costs, making a profit is ALL that matters.

They arent in business to help you out, even though they make it seem that way.


User currently offlineMDorBust From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1448 times:

To make money for the owners.

User currently offlineSpeedbird747BA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1442 times:

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 5):



Quoting AAce24 (Reply 4):

 checkmark 

In the US....


Cheers,
Kyle


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1438 times:

Quoting AAce24 (Reply 4):
The sole role of a business in America is to make a profit, at all costs, making a profit is ALL that matters.

And that is what I'm starting to dislike about America. Businesses are actually a necessary part of the social fabric of America. People depend of them and they depend on people. Unfortunately, many business owners and operators don't see the big picture. They only care about themselves.

Mark


User currently offlineMaidensGator From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 945 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1431 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 7):
Quoting AAce24 (Reply 4):
The sole role of a business in America is to make a profit, at all costs, making a profit is ALL that matters.

And that is what I'm starting to dislike about America. Businesses are actually a necessary part of the social fabric of America. People depend of them and they depend on people. Unfortunately, many business owners and operators don't see the big picture. They only care about themselves.

They have to look out for themselves first. Otherwise they won't be around to look out for anyone else. Being a good businessman doesn't necessarily mean cutting everyone's throats, including your own employees. Hiring, training, and retaining a workforce is probably the most important investment most businesses make. To retain that workforce, you have to treat them well. The best way to keep the union out of your business is to treat the employees so well they don't want the union. If the investors don't make a profit off a business, what reason is there for the investment.



The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
User currently offlineIFEMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1425 times:

Interesting thread.

As a business owner and employer, I do feel that this business entity as it exists is there to provide livelihood to others but also serve it's own needs and, ultimately, my needs. I'm fair to my employees - I pay them around or above standard, give them decent benefits for a small company, treat them fairly etc. In return, they work hard and efficiently and enthusiastically. I hope that it continues and that I can help provide a livelihood for more people.

However, I started this business for me to make money. No other reason. I didn't have great aspirations of providing a livelihood for other people. It existed as a way for me to line my pockets. And for as long as I own it, that's how it will stay. And if I had to, I would downsize and make job cuts to protect my own income if the business looked like it was in danger of collapsing. It's not personal; I like all the people who work for me, but their friendship is secondary to the business relationship. I'm depending on this business to get me to retirement, so in that respect, if I had to get rid of everyone until it's just me, then I'd do it. I'd have to; I'd have no other choice.

As it stands, the business is doing well and we will grow again this year. But it IS all about profit, because it's only profit that pays in to my bank account each month and pays in to my 401k each month and it's that same profit that will be paying for my retirement when the time comes.


User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 8771 posts, RR: 42
Reply 10, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1419 times:

Quoting MaidensGator (Reply 8):
The best way to keep the union out of your business is to treat the employees so well they don't want the union. If the investors don't make a profit off a business, what reason is there for the investment.

Two good points, bad treatment of "subjects" by an employer is the single best case for any union, a money-grabbing one as much as an honest-to-God one. So good treatment of employees is necessary, even economically, whenever the employees' qualifications make the company.

On the other hand, I think we all agree that an investor giving his money, hard-earned or not, to someone else should get some sort of return. The part that needs discussion is the importance that increases of said profit should be given - blah - I mean whether or not shareholder value is more important than everything else.

Quoting IFEMaster (Reply 9):
But it IS all about profit, because it's only profit that pays in to my bank account each month and pays in to my 401k each month and it's that same profit that will be paying for my retirement when the time comes.

Not to mention, you took the risk of running your own business. Many people, including yours truly, aren't too fond of doing the same.

[Edited 2007-03-02 01:33:55]


Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineLOT767-300ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1411 times:

Your mommy (or in the European case...government) can provide you with your good livelyhood.

Business is there to make money. That money should be attained in a fair and legal way...but that is nowhere near the point of a business.

I havent heard of one person saying..."Oh yea, ill start a strip club so the strippers can make money and put food on the table because I care"


User currently offlineIFEMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1407 times:

Quoting Aloges (Reply 10):
Not to mention, you took the risk of running your own business. Many people, including yours truly, aren't too fond of doing the same.

Right. There were moment in my first year that I thought it would collapse. I used to go weeks without a day off. Pull regular all-nighters to meet deadlines. Plead with the bank to extend my line of credit 'just one more time'. It's been far from easy, and now that the business is somewhat successful, I'll do what I need to do to protect it's existence and my pay check.

Quoting Aloges (Reply 10):

On the other hand, I think we all agree that an investor giving his money, hard-earned or not, to someone else should get some sort of return. The part that needs discussion is the importance that increases of said profit should be given - blah - I mean whether or not shareholder value is more important than everything else.

This is a good point. I vowed never to float the company if we were ever in a position to do so, simply because I don't know that I could stomach relinquishing control of the company to shareholders, and nor could I live with it on my conscience that I'd sold out in the name of profit that my employees wouldn't see much of. I look after my guys and girls, as I've already said, and every time I have to make decision that effects how they are rewarded and treated, I ask myself if I could sleep at night with any one of the possible outcomes. Perhaps that's the human part of the business; the secondary part that sees my team as my friends. And for as long as we're doing well, that's how it will stay. But if we hit rough ground and I have to put the business first, I will.

The importance of profit is fairly high, but not the highest, to me. I like to give everyone a Christmas bonus and payrises and buy us all new computers and have an excellent environment to work in etc., and all of that requires profit above and beyond the regular overheads. So, I do concern myself with it in order to be able to do those things. However, it's not my focus. I know that if we work in a healthy fashion - hard AND smart - then the profit will occur. I don't buy in to hiring consultants to come in and help me "maximize my profits" or "streamline efficiency", as I know I'd just be told to stop buying my employees ipods or giving them generous Christmas bonuses or quit buying lunch for everyone each week, and I'm not interested in hearing that. The reason why I love coming to work (and I mean love - I look forward to coming in to the office every day) is because I know everyone else feels the same way - they all enjoy their jobs. I've never had someone quit on me because they didn't like the job or the work. My team like being here for 9 hours of their day. And I like to think that my attitude towards them and the way I treat them plays a part in that - I treat them fairly, they treat me fairly. I reward them for their hardwork, they reward me by working hard.


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1407 times:

Quoting LOT767-300ER (Reply 11):
..."Oh yea, ill start a strip club so the strippers can make money and put food on the table because I care"

There are lots of them. They're called not-for-profit companies. That's the kind of business I'd like to start or work for. Benefiting mankind while making enough to live on and saving for an adequate retirement.

Not necessarily a strip club, but something related to health care for the needy or learning centers for kids.

Mark

[Edited 2007-03-02 01:57:11]

User currently offlineLOT767-300ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1402 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 13):
There are lots of them. They're called not-for-profit companies. That's the kind of business I'd like to start or work for. Benefiting mankind while making enough to live on and saving for an adequate retirement.

Non-for profit strip clubs?

Non-for profit businesses can go out of business too.

A Church diocese can and do go bankrupt...so thats a nice thought but in the end the bank is counting.


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1402 times:

Quoting LOT767-300ER (Reply 14):
Non-for profit strip clubs?

See my edit.


User currently offlineAAce24 From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 849 posts, RR: 11
Reply 16, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1397 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 13):
They're called not-for-profit companies.

Thats not totally true either. Even some non-profit organizations are still trying to get/raise money.


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1391 times:

Quoting AAce24 (Reply 16):
Even some non-profit organizations are still trying to get/raise money

Earmarked for specified future needs and plans. It's not like raising loads of additional money to line your pockets with.

I've worked for a government department for nearly three decades. Every penny has to be accounted for and every need has to be anticipated. Transitioning to a not-for-profit wouldn't be that much different. There's still a higher power (more ways than one) that I/we need to be accountable to.

Mark


User currently offlineFr8Mech From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 5659 posts, RR: 15
Reply 18, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1381 times:

Businesses do not exist to provide livelihoods. That they provide livelihoods is a byproduct or result of being in business. Businesses exist to provide a product or service to the consumer. If that product or service satisfies the consumer, repeatedly, the business will thrive and will be able to provide opportunities to those employed by it.


When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
User currently offlineMaidensGator From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 945 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1373 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 13):
Quoting LOT767-300ER (Reply 11):
..."Oh yea, ill start a strip club so the strippers can make money and put food on the table because I care"

There are lots of them. They're called not-for-profit companies. That's the kind of business I'd like to start or work for. Benefiting mankind while making enough to live on and saving for an adequate retirement.

Not necessarily a strip club, but something related to health care for the needy or learning centers for kids.



Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 17):
Quoting AAce24 (Reply 16):
Even some non-profit organizations are still trying to get/raise money

Earmarked for specified future needs and plans. It's not like raising loads of additional money to line your pockets with.

I've formed several NFP corps for clients. The biggest challenge is getting the 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. You have to jump through some hoops to convince them that your company exists for a charitable purpose. If you get that, you've got a leg up on competition because your income is not taxable. That's a huge advantage for something like a hospital. Once you get that from the IRS, you have to be really careful or they'll yank it. Any sort of private inurement is enough to lose the NFP status.

Don't kid yourself that nobody is lining their pockets. The CEO of a large hospital is going to command $500K a year whether it's a for profit or not for profit entity. One interesting aspect is that there are no stockholders. If the NFP corporation is dissolved, the proceeds must be donated to a charitable organization. I was involved with a case once where a once thriving church had dwindled to about a dozen members. They sold the building for a couple million and split the money. It took a while, but once the government caught on, it wasn't pretty.



The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
User currently offlineSpeedbird747BA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1371 times:

This is directed at AsstChiefMark -

What if you got rich making others rich? Like an investment banker?

Cheers,
Kyle


User currently offlineAirCop From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1370 times:

Quoting MaidensGator (Reply 8):
Hiring, training, and retaining a workforce is probably the most important investment most businesses make. To retain that workforce, you have to treat them well. The best way to keep the union out of your business is to treat the employees so well they don't want the union.

You're absolutely right, without good employees, the business profit margin will suffer. Long term successful companies such as Costco treat their employees has partners and not the enemy. Just wondering what kind of shape GM would be in today, if they treated the employees has partners and listened to their suggestions on how to improve the product.


User currently offlineMaidensGator From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 945 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1370 times:

Quoting Speedbird747BA (Reply 20):
What if you got rich making others rich? Like an investment banker?

And what if you went broke helping others go broke.... Like an investment banker.... (think dot.com bubble)



The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
User currently offlineSpeedbird747BA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1368 times:

Quoting MaidensGator (Reply 22):
And what if you went broke helping others go broke.... Like an investment banker.... (think dot.com bubble)

Thats a good point as well.

Cheers,
Kyle


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (7 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1363 times:

Quoting Speedbird747BA (Reply 20):
What if you got rich making others rich? Like an investment banker?

I'm not sure. I wouldn't feel comfortable swimming in money. I'd feel uncomfortable driving a fancy car that I don't need or living in a house with more space than I need.

I'm into public service. I'm a teacher, paramedic, and nurse. I feel successful making sure other peoples' basic needs are met.

Mark


25 Yellowstone : As I see it, businesses have three roles, all of which need to be kept in balance if the business is to generate the greatest utility for society: 1)
26 Speedbird747BA : How nice is that? Do they give out Nobel Prizes for stuff like that? But naturally you make sure you and your families needs are taken care of first?
27 Post contains images AAce24 : And the idealistic view in business, would be the wrong view.
28 AsstChiefMark : What are you getting at? Of course. They know what to do during a tornado warning when I take off to help others. Mark
29 Speedbird747BA : Im genuinely amazied that there are still people out there like you. I applaude you, sir. Seriously. Cheers, Kyle
30 Post contains images AAce24 : Agreed. AsstChiefMark, you are in the minority in this country these days....
31 AirCop : Public service is a calling; add police,military and fire to your list, at least you know that your career made a difference. Before I get flamed, ma
32 PPVRA : AFAIK, NFP corps are usually formed to provide a service at lower costs - charities, health care, or educational and scientific purposes, etc. But to
33 MaidensGator : I totally agree, and I may not have been clear in what I was saying. What I meant was that even NFP's have to pay market rate for executives/employee
34 Post contains images AC773 : Business? No. Corporation? Absolutely! Let me straighten something out. Corporations are often cast in a fairly evil light, and while some of the act
35 Banco : One of my colleagues (we're a loose connection of independent companies) in Germany is an Australian, and he constantly complains about the difficult
36 Post contains images Gkirk : Try telling the major airlines that
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