What Is a Business?
Businesses are commercial establishments that engage in a variety of economic activities with the goal of making money. They can range from individual side hustles to massive global corporations, but the common thread is the pursuit of profit. While profit is the primary motive, an entity does not need to be profitable to be considered a business. Its pursuit of profits defines it, even if it never achieves them.
It may be tempting to blame the current state of business on personal greed, inadequate scrutiny of corporate affairs, or an insensitivity to public opinion, but these are just symptoms of a more fundamental disease. The root cause is the cult of selfishness that has infected the culture of capitalism and permeated all parts of society. It has created an illusion of self-sufficiency that has led people to believe that their own needs come second to the interests of others.
While it is true that a large percentage of businesspeople are not corrupt or evil, the perception persists that most are in it for themselves. And as a result, many people have lost trust in business and those who run it. A recent Gallup poll found that only 18% of Americans believe that executives are primarily in it for the benefit of consumers and employees.
The problem with this view is that it erodes the ability of business to fulfill its basic function, which is to help create the goods and services that humankind requires for survival. It also undermines the social fabric that supports business, making communities less able to thrive. The cure starts with changing the language and measures of business. Instead of treating employees as costs, they should be seen as assets to be cherished and nurtured. Instead of measuring profitability, companies should measure community health and well-being.
There are three main types of business: service, manufacturing and retail. A service business is one that offers intangible goods like assistance, advice or labour. Examples include law firms, consultancy agencies and courier and transportation services. A manufacturing business is one that produces the goods they sell, either directly or through a third party. Manufacturing companies produce a range of products, including cars, wine and steel. Finally, a retail business is one that buys and sells the products produced by other businesses, such as grocery stores, supermarkets and duty-free shops.
Hybrid businesses are those that exhibit characteristics of two or more of the types discussed above. For example, a restaurant that develops its own dishes (manufacturing) but also sells products like cold drinks that are manufactured by other businesses (merchandising). It is important to note that for an activity to be considered a business, it must be conducted on a regular basis. For example, an individual who sells their old car on OLX is not engaging in a business. However, a company that regularly trades cars at its showroom is. This is because the business is dealing in a product that is constantly in demand.