To Profit or Not to Profit

Rob Campbell comments to a financial analysists conference were reported in Stuff

He made the very valid point that “Business is not a machine whose purpose is to spit out money to shareholders in a reliable stream forever“.

I saw this article on LinkedIn and thought I’d add my views…

Business is just a resource. It’s up to us how we use that resource, and how we use the outcomes of that resource. Making money for shareholders isn’t wrong, in and of itself. It can even be seen as an impactful purpose, depending how the profits are used. We need to be more open and more strategic around ‘purpose’. Imagine if Amazon was owned by a charity that used the profits as a resource to help eliminate food poverty around the globe. In this case, Amazon’s purpose to make a profit is obviously a good thing.

Of course just because profit could be a ‘good’ purpose, that doesn’t have to mean profit at all cost. It’s just why that organisation is operating that particular business. Like all organisations (not just businesses), it should be values driven, seek to support it’s communities and basically operate as a good citizen.

Rob Campbell is obviously talking about large corporates but we also need to remember that the NZ economy is made up of a significant number of SMEs. Operating a business with the intent to support your family is still a purpose.

I don’t believe that making a profit is where we need to have the conversations.

The two key focus points should be how we make that profit and then how we use that profit

What really matters is how we use business to do good!

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