Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Thought, not money, is the real business capital...

From Harvey Firestone in Men and Rubber: The Story of Business:
Business is founded on thought. Optimism and enthusiasm are valuable in keeping up the morale of an organization--they are lubricants which help to overcome friction--but they cannot be the driving power, and they cannot substitute for well-thought-out business principles, any more than a machine will run just because it is well oiled. Power has to be transmitted before a wheel will turn. We give various names to the thought which has the power to turn the wheels. Sometimes we call it management. But there is another kind of management which is not based on thought and which is not management at all; for instance, there is the kind of management which operates solely on records. Records will guide thought, but they will not substitute for thought. Good management--that is, management with real thought behind it--does not bother trying to make its way by trickery, for it knows that fundamental honesty is the keystone of the arch of business. It knows that you will fail if you think more of matching competitors than of giving service; that you will fail if you put money or profits ahead of work, and that there is no reason why you should succeed if what you do does not benefit others.

This is not idealistic philosophy; it is the hardest kind of hard common sense. If you ask yourself why you are in business and can find no answer other than "I want to make money," you will save money by getting out of business and going to work for someone, for you are in business without sufficient reason. A business which exists without a reason is due for an early death. The single reason for the existence of any business must be that it supplies a human need or want, and, if my experience is worth anything, a business which has this reason for its existence will be bound in the end to prosper if thought be put into it. Thought, not money, is the real business capital, and if you know absolutely that what you are doing is right, then you are bound to accomplish it in due season.

I say this not because I read it somewhere in a book, but because I have lived it.