I found an interesting article on capitalism recently. In it, author B.K. Marcus makes this point among many other good ones.
“It doesn’t matter if businessmen are benevolent or patronizing, progressive or reactionary; in a free and competitive economy, the successful entrepreneur maximizes profits through mutually beneficial exchange — anticipating the products and services that customers will be most willing to pay for.”
Capitalism is indifferent to attitude and that indifference runs contrary to the way society today values feelings. The question you must ask is, Would an economic system that is not indifferent improve our well being? Social responsibility may be an unnecessary feature when customers are good at their work.
The key to understanding is that the capitalist system Marcus talks about is not completely indifferent. It really does not matter if the business person cares greatly or not at all. It does matter that customer will only exchange their money for at least as great a value as offered by the business person. No connection then no trade.
The problem we have now is many people do not know and cannot assess the value they receive. Worse, there is a political movement present that subscribes to the idea that you can have something for nothing. Value does not matter then. Something for nothing is antithetical to the idea of capitalism because something for nothing is impossible under any economic distribution system. Politicians like to hide who is paying and claim credit for delivering the goods. Dishonest?
All of life, not just economics, is about an exchange of values. Friendships, family, lovers, religion, customers, employees and more exchange value. It might not be a direct exchange like money for a new phone, but it is still there. We are all traders.
We must learn to understand value. Both what we give and what we get. Without that understanding we cannot understand the system, and when we misunderstand we are soon mislead.
Establish your values. Learn what you want and what you are willing to give up to get it. (A simple trade) When you have that, most planning gets easier. The value of time becomes apparent. Priorities are easy to establish. Measuring achievement becomes possible. Conflicts become visible as do the missing pieces of skill and technique. Sometimes we find wants that are not possible to achieve. As we gain experience alternatives suddenly appear.
Paying attention to how a business feels adds little to the customer/business experience. Paying attention to how customers feel matters greatly. As a customer, seek what you want, best service, best value for the price, or whatever else you like best. It is like golf. No need to ask how. A business must simply address the customer’s needs and desires.
A brand can be an identifier of a particular kind of customer satisfying effort. A good brand requires effort, knowledge and skill. Nothing is free and not many things are easy. You will have to work at it.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
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