Creation of wealth and distribution of wealth is one the most profound economic objective. I do agree that ‘profit’ is not a dirty word. To me doing business is satisfying because it gives tremendous amount of opportunities for exposing one’s innate talents. Some more personal views on this in future.
Some of the people in business who have influence me include: (in alphabetical order of first name)
Ghanshyam Das Birla
James Murray Wells
Kushal Pal Singh
O P Jindal
Thomas Alva Edison
William (Bill) Gates III
Let me narrate to you an interesting fable (story) of Panchatantra. The word ‘Panchatantra’ is a Sanskrit language word meaning in English ‘five doctrines of conduct’. Some of you might now that Panchatantra is a collection of five volumes of stories written originally in Sanskrit language by Pandit Vishnu Sharma around 200 BC in Mahilaropya (now known as state of Tamilnadu), India. It includes a collection of popular moral tales that are even relevant today. It is believed that these stories entered European literature through an Arabic version (750 AD) of the translation into Syriac of the Pahlavi (Persian) translation (550 AD) from the Sanskrit original. In fact, I read them quite often even today.
The following story is titled ‘Brahmin and three crooks’.
Once there lived a pious brahmin in a village. He used to perform religious rituals. On one occasion he was rewarded with a cow by a rich man for his service. The brahmin started to bring the cow to his home. On the way, three crooks saw the brahmin bringing the cow. They were lazy and wanted to cheat the brahmin so that they could take away the cow. They hatched a plan.
The first person approached the brahmin and said, “Are you a washerman that you’re pulling a donkey.” The brahmin was annoyed at being mistaken for a washerman. He went on. A little later he was met by the second of the three. The second person asked him why being a brahmin he needed to pull a pig. Now the brahmin was confused but he went on. Some distance later he was met by the third person who asked him why he was pulling along a wild animal. Now the brahmin was totally confused and also afraid. He thought that it was a devil animal which took different forms. He ran away leaving the cow behind. The three tricksters laughed at the brahmin at having obtained the cow from the brahmin.
I think business and entrepreneurship are quite similar to the above story. When one spots a business opportunity, chances are that one is surrounded by people (‘crooks’) who are there to discourage you and misguide you as if there is no business opportunity exiting at all. People might label your great business idea as ‘loss venture’ (like crook labelling cow as donkey) and might internally wanting you to leave your ‘cow’ and go away. If you look at the history of great business people and entrepreneurs (including those listed above in this post), one would notice that they were invariably turned down by a lot of people around them.
If they too (like this brahmin in this story) would have trusted them (‘crooks’), they would have put their business ideas under the carpet and they might have not been at the position they are right now. But they did not and that is a great lesson that we can learn from this Panchatantra story.
Let me clarify that I do not undermine the value of ‘critics’ in business and enterprises. Critics are most welcome and they play a significant role but what is more significant is ‘healthy criticisms’ based on ‘facts’ and not like a conspired plot to pull someone down. More on businesses sometime later.