Profits Aren’t Evil

There is a bad misconception being force fed to students all over America.  It’s been happening for a bunch of years, and amazingly now, there is debate about it.

It’s over money.

People have taken the “money is the root of all evil” line out of the Bible and turned it into, “do what you feel passionate about; don’t worry about the money.” (for the religious types out there, I know that isn’t the actual line, but it’s how people quote it)

Sorry.  Wrong attitude.  Worry about the money.

Startups and individuals are guilty of this.  Kids are graduating from college with degrees and then “finding themselves”.  You don’t find yourself walking the earth and living with your parents.  You find yourself by working to earn a living, and exposing yourself to the world.

Take your past experiences, the knowledge you got from your academic program in college and apply it to the job you are in.

Too many people focus on “making a difference”.  I got news for you.  You make a difference just by working every day.  That job creates value for someone. It may not be meaningful to you at the time-and it might seem like you are just a cog in a wheel; but you are not.

It’s what you do with that experience that counts.  Think Steve Jobs taking the calligraphy class.  Because he was willing to expose himself to that class, he created brilliant fonts for the Mac operating system.

But job exposure doesn’t have to be feel good touchy feely bull.  It can be as simply as being a salesperson for any company.  Salespeople get exposed to all kinds of people and all kinds of things.  What was Ray Kroc before he became CEO of McDonald’s?

Too often, profit making ideas are screwed up with idealistic bullshit.  There is a movement among young people all the way to Yuppies these days for making homemade food products.  Dabble even offers a bunch of classes in it.  Why do people do it?  Mostly because it’s fun, and rewarding personally.  The food they make is fresher, and tastes great.  They can tailor it to their individual tastes rather than buy off the shelf mass produced food.  Some people even make cottage businesses up selling it.

Then there is this.  Transition Rogers Park.  Taking the same sort of idea but basing it on the fallacies of “peak oil”, “climate change” and other ideas that have been scientifically debunked.  This effort will fail because it’s based on the wrong foundational principles.

Can you imagine how Steve Jobs would have done with Apple ($AAPL) if he said, “I am going to build a computer so we can research and eliminate problems like Peak Oil.”.  He’d have failed in the first year.  He created Apple to earn a profit.  If you are going to be successful, you have to create value.  Creating value is often measured by how much top line revenue falls to the bottom line. It’s how we keep score, and how humans have kept score since recorded history.

More recently, Groupon ($GRPN) originally was going to be a company that “moved people.”  The basis was some sort of quasi left wing political thing that tried to get people to change society.  It failed.  But when Groupon concentrated on taking the same idea to a profit based business that got people to pay for coupons to engage in commerce, it worked.

Going after profit doesn’t mean you don’t worry about your employees, worry about big macro causes like the environment and human rights.  You will find that if you start a business and are a responsible entrepreneur, you will worry about the well being of your employees a lot.  They are the resources that help your company survive.

Surely, almost everyone with an education has heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at some point.  There is a hierarchy of needs in human life.  Safe shelter, some friends, and some money.  Build off that.

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