“Every great power is dangerous for the beginner. You must therefore wield them as you are able, but in harmony with nature.”
-Epictetus, Discourses, 3.13.20
Like a jujitsu white belt that has the fundamentals, strength, and ability to take down a blue belt, but does not have the technique nor experience to do it safely and not injure anyone involved.
With great power comes great responsibility.
After reading this quote for the first time the first thing I initially thought of a beginner that just started a business.
As this trend of more and more young people becoming entrepreneurs continues I wanted to share my thoughts on the responsibility of being an entrepreneur.
As a business owner, I have a unique position that needs to be taken seriously. I am no longer just responsible for myself and my duties, I am responsible for every single problem that arises in the organization. It’s not about always casting the blame on yourself, it’s about realizing the bigger picture and how you need to change the environment of the organization to avoid that particular mistake in the future.
If you start a business to make money you have already missed the boat. Because money is the byproduct of your organization consistently providing more value than you receive in return.
You start a business to provide more value in exchange for less value because you love the work that much. That’s the bottom line. Starting a business for the sole reason of calling yourself an entrepreneur is the worst reason to do it. You must fall in love with the work, the mission, the journey of building an awesome and ethical organization, and the people involved. Because when you’re in business, you’re in the relationship game.
To do that, as an owner, I must make sure I’m thinking of all the stakeholders and how each decision will most likely impact each of them. To do so I consider the stakeholders and the ethicality of the organizations’ actions in the below order.
First, I think about how our actions will affect the customer. I consider the customer to be the most important consideration as my company is customer obsessed. Next are the employees. It is crucial to measure the impact a decision has on your employees based on how happy they are and how easily they are able to do their job. It’s about removing all friction at all levels that so that the organization runs like a well-oiled machine. Finally, the shareholders deserve to be considered. These people believe in your company and mission, they must not be forgotten. Fulfill your promises to all.
This is a very basic way of looking at stakeholders, you also have the community, government, suppliers, and etc.
The point I want to make is you cannot get into business for selfish reasons. You get into the business world because there is an itch you would like to scratch and that problem happens to be itching enough of society to break even on your efforts.
Business is much bigger than you. Either develop the empathy needed to run an ethical business or my recommendation would be to go into business with someone who can.
Thank you for reading! I will talk a lot about this topic in the future, thank you.