Spending so much time in the studio with only the hum of the wheel (and a parade of cats) for company allows my mind to wander down various coves and alleys of thought. Such as: what makes a successful business? No, really think about it.
Many people would say that the purpose of a business is to make money, and if it is doing so, it is a successful business, period. Too broad for you? Let's stipulate legally; and even go a step further, and say ethically, within conventional standards. Is it enough that this so-stipulated business is making money, to make it successful?
At the risk of sounding like the ghost of Jacob Marley, I've concluded that, no. That's ass backwards. A business has to acquire money, of course, but that is a step in the process of its purpose. Like this: the purpose of a power plant is not to create steam; instead, power plants create steam as a necessary step to achieve the end result: electricity. It's not correct to say steam is a side effect or a by-product; the creation of steam is a key step, without which the plant would not function. Money, in business, is like that. You want some money, and you need some money - you have to live. You can't do your job unless you have enough money to live on. Your business can't function if the people within it - including you - can't. But it's among the means, not the ends.
So, if the goal isn't money, what is it? I submit that the purpose of your business - the true purpose of any business - is a dual: to provide the best product or service that it can in the process of realizing of human potential. There is great overlap between these goals. The realization of your potential, the entrepreneur, is the utilization of your skills and knowledge. The same goes for your staff, if you have staff. A successful business will provide an opportunity for both the owner and the employees to realize the promise of their aptitudes. To the extent that the aquisition of money interferes with the actualization of either owners or employees, it is over-emphaiszed. It has become an obstacle to the success of the business.
Maybe you're waiting for the twist, the part where I conclude that, if you do business in this fashion you will make even more money, in the end. Well, you probably won't. You tend to get what you prioritze, and if you prioritize money only as an avenue to personal growth, your business may well make less money, and that's okay. Because I am advocating for a different model of success. If you have enough that you and your family are comfortable and secure, consider that perhaps you have enough, period.
Yeah, I hear you, there in the back: I should stop smoking that stuff, it'll make my teeth all yellow. But as Marley discovered, you really can't take it with you, and a legacy of material things is an impoverished one indeed. I'll let ol' Jake have the last word:
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