Is business all about making money?

by MPA19 Aug 2016

For a long time, a certain line of thought has been popular in business and among many economists who study the field. The thinking is this: people are in business only to make money. The profit motive is the only motive. If the organization invests in anything like philanthropy or employee engagement, the activity exists solely as an attempt to increase profits. Money matters -- and nothing else.

The problem with this way of seeing business, I think, is that it doesn't align well with reality. Of course, profit is important. Making money is essential to running a healthy organization, and attention certainly must be paid to the bottom line. But the truth is that people have many other motives in business as well. For example, leaders sometimes help develop employees because they actually care about the success of the employees -- not just because they want to eke more profit out of them.

I once heard a saying that I think is important for leaders in the mortgage industry to remember: you shouldn't just be in business to make money; rather, you should make money to be in business. What this means is that profit isn't the goal of your work. Instead, it is the means by which you reach your goal. Money is the fuel for your organization. You can't go anywhere without it. But remember: you are going somewhere. You exist for a larger purpose, and you must not forget what that purpose is. Profit is essential to helping you achieve that purpose but, in and of itself, it is not the purpose of your existence.

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