Lately I've heard many complaints about business and how businesses are hurting the country. Business is often disparaged and perceived in a negative light. But imagine a world without business. You would not be able to trade goods or services of value for other goods and services. People would live like nomads or gatherers, only gaining that which is produced by the sweat of their brow. Your life would be centered on survival. You would only be able to utilize that which was available to you in your natural surroundings. The only knowledge and skills you would have are those that you learned yourself or that were passed down freely by the generosity of those around you. Business is an important trait to society. It allows for a variety of goods to be available, it gives people purpose, it gives identity, it gives people time, it give people the ability to find self-fulfillment.
Variety of goods
Imagine Las Vegas without any human life. If you were dropped off to live there on your own, you would definitely not have the quality of life you enjoy right now. Commerce allows us to enjoy those things which would be hard to come by on our own. For example, to obtain a variety of fresh produce throughout the year would be hard for society to get on its own without business or trade. There are other things which would be impossible to have or get, like life insurance and heart surgery. Business and society have a very strong relationship with each other. The variety of goods and services that society gains from businesses enriches society as a whole. Competition between businesses reduces costs and increases quality. We would not enjoy the quality of goods we have if we had to produce them on our own.
Business and commerce give time to individuals. Instead of running around to find the bare necessities, individuals are able to specialize in a specific task, become experts at this task and improve the quality of the product they make. Businesses are hubs where people can put their talents and skills to fulfill society's needs. If society does not see value in the goods or services, that business ceases to exist. Instead of spending all your time finding and producing everything for yourself, businesses allow for mass production making it easier for people to access goods. Your work to add value to society is rewarded by a tradable symbol which you can use to gain the products of another's labor. Society makes its decisions as to what is of value and what is not, and thus it makes itself efficient, leaving you with more time than if you were to do it all yourself. Besides giving us time, businesses give us better use of our time.
Business gives us purpose. Have you ever been asked "What do you want to do with your life?" This is a common question in society. From a young age we ask children what they want to become. We have "career days" in elementary school and "career fairs" in high school and a host of varying degrees available in college. Sometimes this question is so important that even potential employers will venture to ask "what we are planning to do with your life in the future?" Much of what we do as a society revolves around a purpose tied to business. Yes, we go to school for many years to "get an education" but, much of the purpose for such education is to "get a good job." Whether you are working as a doctor, garbage man, or for the government, you are involved in business. You serve a purpose in society and receive payment for such services. People don't strive to simply do, but to become. You become an engineer, you become a doctor, and you become an investment banker.
Business gives people identity. Identity and purpose are closely tied. Business gives us identity in two ways. Businesses produce products which people relate with identity, not just in terms of status, but also in terms of recognized social groups. For example, if you wear a t-shirt from one company, you may be seen as a geek, but if you wear another brand, you may be popular. If you drive a certain car, you may be seen as environmentally friendly, but with another car you may be considered rich. These brands can change your identity even if the perception is not true. Another way people gain an identity with business is through titles we spend our lives trying to gain. We spend years working extra hard to get the title of General Manager or CFO. We put in countless hours to get Dr. in front of our names or PhD at the end. In these ways we tie our identity to our expertise in specific industries or fields of study.
Businesses allow for us to engage in leisure activities. Without businesses to create leisure products, recreational equipment, and sports products, society would not be able to do many of the things we now do. We would not have exposure to many of the "fun" things in life. Even if you had the exposure to such things, you would be limited in the quantity and quality of such hobbies. Products used in sports, arts, crafts, relaxing, riding a motorcycle, and myriads of other activities require specific products and services that would be hard to replicate if you were to try to do so on your own. Businesses give society innovative ways to produce goods and improve the quality of our life both at work and when not at work.
Business gives society a means of self-fulfillment. Businesses allow people to feel important in society by offering things that society could not have without the business. Owners can provide society with things that the owner is passionate about that consumers are likewise passionate about. Businesses give people something they want or something they need, or they don't stay in business very long. Businesses give us employment, products, services and hope. They give us something to strive for in our education. They allow our ideas to turn into something useful. Businesses can empowers employees with the necessities to provide for their families. Businesses allow people to pursue various personal goals.
Though the concepts in this article are basic and fundamental, it is sometimes easy to forget the importance of businesses to society.
Follow Neal Jenson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Neal Jenson