Monday, August 13, 2012

The Semantics of the ‘Did you or Did you not Create your Business’ Debate

The silliness of the presidential campaign season is in full gear.  Not much substance in August, as the two campaigns need to do anything in their power to focus on negatives of the other side.  One of the topics under debate, if you want to call it a true debate – probably a war of words is more accurate – is built around a comment made by Pres. Obama, to the effect that someone who has a successful business did not do it entirely by themselves.  Gov. Romney and his surrogates make it a point at any speech or interview to make the comment that the Republicans DO think that that same business owner did create his or her business on their own. 

Both sides are correct, but of course cannot simply go on to provide the details that show both are correct because both want the issue. 

Did Bill Gates come up with Microsoft on his own?   Well, in the sense that he co-founder Paul Allen developed the idea for a software company that would have a graphics-based operating system to do the same and much more than the old DOS system, absolutely.  It was their ideas that led to the formation of the concept of the company.  Romney and the Republicans have a check in their column.

However, I believe the point the President is trying to make, and he and his surrogates make this point at all their speeches, is that forming a company that is successful absolutely takes the countless hours of hard work from the founder, but is not at all possible without help along the way.  Gates, for instance, would not be where he is without the teachers at his school that allowed him to use one of the few personal computers available in the vicinity for countless hours.  To get a company going almost always involves the assistance of the banks to get the loans and seed money, or family and friends to help put pieces in place.  One can get extremely detailed with the ‘village’ view, where it takes all the public infrastructure like roads and bridges and airports and shipping services to get your product to market, and the public school system that allows an educated work force from which to hire your employees, and all the other companies and stores and employers of the world that provide jobs to the masses so you have customers to be able to afford your product, and so on.  It truly does require a community with MANY parts in order for any business to start up and succeed over time.

In the end, ideas and concepts for products and services aredeveloped in many different ways, by individuals and small groups of individuals.  It does take that willingness to take on often truly staggering risks for an individual to put everything on the line and invest the time, effort, money and other capital into the project of developing a company.  Many do have wonderful ideas, but cannot take that step into a risk of losing possibly everything, so kudos galore to those who can and do take that giant step into the unknown!  They deserve to reap the benefits should that idea and company take off…capitalism at its finest.  But there is also truth to the fact that one cannot sell a product or service if there are no potential customers or ways of getting the product to those potential customers.  This is where the ‘it takes a village or community’ mindset comes in.  This is the ‘big picture’ view of success. 

So BOTH are right!  Can we please just move on and get to the main issues that Americans are worrying about???  

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