Jonathan Begley

March 14, 2010

THE BOTTOM LINE

Filed under: Uncategorized — jonathanbegley @ 2:16 pm

I had a very interesting talk on Friday with a local entreprenuer who just happens to have founded a very successful restaraunt chain in the area.  His views on a presentation we  both heard were astonishingly different than my own.

The presentation was from a group of at-risk youth who were employed at a new silk-screening company.  The company is run by a local organization who received a federal grant for an entreprenuer training program.  I was impressed at the opportunity that these youth had and more so of the fact that each of them understood the possibilities and what they could achieve. 

Each youth acknowledged that without a program such as this there was a significant chance that they would be involved in local drugs or gangs.  They were thankful that this company was formed and that they had an opportunity not only to make money, but to make money doing something that they loved.  All of them were self-proclaimed “artists” and the work that they  brought with them was impressive.  Art and silk-screening was the least of the skills that these youth were learning.  They saw every aspect of startng and running a business, from meeting OSHA regulations to marketing; making sales and meeting deadlines.  These are skills that are highly transferable. 

I saw a training program that was teaching youth skills they could use the rest of their lives.  I saw enthusiasm from at-risk youth that most adults shy away from in public places.  I saw a federal grant (an expensive one) that was actually making an impact on the lives of our nation’s youth.

The man sitting next to me saw things completely different.  He began asking questions about costs.  Granted, this was an expensive program and these questions need to be asked.  He went further to demand updates be given in six months time because he did not believe that this business would be self-sustaining as planned.  I couldn’t resist pulling him aside after the presentation to ask more about his concerns.  He informed me that his particular business uses a silk screening business for hundreds of orders a year.  This competitor was able to complete these orders for a cost that was “dirt cheap.”  “If these young people can’t find their niche, they don’t have a chance.” 

I mean no disprespect to the man.  He is a very successful businessman who I can learn a great deal from.  He is certainly a “bottom line” kind of a man who achieved success by closely monitoring his expenses and by finding his “niche.” 

There has to be more to life and to business than just the bottom line.  This new business may not be highly successful.  It will not make anyone a fortune.  They more than likely will not be a strong competitor to other silk-screening businesses.  After all, these are not business people.  They are servants of the community making a difference in the lives of kids.  The bottom line is beside the point. 

I feel that the days of bottom line focused business are coming to an end.  Businesses that will succeed will be doing so to the benefit of that community.  I for one will be supporting this business and others like it, not because they can do things cheaper than everyone else, but because there is meaning to what they do.

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