|Dr. Fred McKinney, president and CEO of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, wants business owners to know that not everybody wins in business, but that by developing communal relationships they can get on the road to creating wealth. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Fred McKinney)
In this season of inaugurals, this is the first installment of what I hope will be many commentaries on the world of business and economics. As a former White House economist, business school professor, entrepreneur and current business organization executive, I plan on bringing a perspective to the world, the nation, the state and the city that will attempt to inform and inspire.
Knowledge is power, and it always will be. Sometimes that knowledge takes the form of who you know, and sometimes that power is in the form of what you know. The process of knowing someone or something is an active process. It means using the most important muscle in your body, your brain, to attempt to understand. Knowing is not done in a vacuum; it takes participation in the real world with real people with real phenomena.
I will rely on you to make this column relevant as much as I will rely on my own experiences and understandings. So if you have questions, comments, observations, objections, corrections or you just want to say your piece, I welcome hearing from you — because the chances are I will learn something new.
The title of this column, at least for now, is “Business is Business.” I choose this as a title for several reasons. First of all, it is true, if only by definition. We will explore how just about anyone can be successful in business if they are willing to work, invest, think and show great emotional maturity.
There are negative connotations associated with the phrase that I must acknowledge from the outset. Sometimes, this statement has been used to justify negative and heinous acts done by one business person to another — the boardroom equivalent of the famous line from “The Godfather” in which Michael tells Sonny, “It’s not personal; it’s strictly business.”
Everybody does not win in business. Mutually beneficial exchanges do not necessarily take into consideration the impact that these transactions may have on others who are not directly involved. There are often consequences of business that go far beyond the original buyers and sellers. For instance, some business owner that sets up a shop selling “objectionable” material may benefit the buyers and seller, but these transactions could have negative impacts on the community. The slave trade is an example of this in the extreme. Here, the phrase has been used as an excuse for bad behavior.
But I choose to focus on the positive aspect of the term. In business, unlike traditional family or communal relationships, it is understood that the transaction being proposed is for the benefit of the seller and for the benefit of the buyer. Economists call this “mutually advantageous exchange.” In other words, everybody involved in that particular transaction wins. Entrepreneurs are in business to earn profits, which create wealth. If there is one thing that our community needs, it is more wealth. Entrepreneurship is the primary way that wealth in the world has been created.
In this column, I will highlight the lessons of successful entrepreneurs who have taken the phrase “business is business” and have created jobs, incomes and wealth for themselves, their families and their communities.
Dr. Fred McKinney, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council. He holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University. He has served on the faculty of Brandeis University and the University of Connecticut School of Business. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.