Planning season is well underway. Those of us who own and operate businesses are looking at the year that has now nearly ended, at our successes and failures, at how we spent our time productively and unproductively, and at our goals met and those we did not meet. We look at all of these things in order to duplicate the success of this year and use what worked to increase revenue and impact next year. As we do this, we are inundated with articles from all sorts of sources promising to help us plan for and achieve better results in the coming year. These articles range in the value they provide, from strong and utilitarian to weak and overly esoteric.
Doing What You Love For Profit
Many of the articles purport to help us find or relocate a driving force behind our various business lines and services. Invariably somewhere in many of these articles the following question is inserted as something each of us should be asking, “what do you enjoy doing so much that you would do it for free?” While the intention behind this question is genuine and good, the question is ridiculous. It is ridiculous not because it is trite and sophomoric, but rather because as an entrepreneur, the answer is “Absolutely Nothing!” I do what I love for profit, and the good that profitability brings.
This answer sounds harsh and cold at first, but it is not meant to, and in fact it is quite the opposite. Rather, it is a genuine expression of what each of us actually knows. I absolutely love what I do, and would hate doing anything else. I intentionally conduct my business in a way that is designed to promote social goods, reflect the care that I have for human beings, the world we inhabit and create a better economic environment in which we conduct business. I do my work for free quite often, and with great fervor. Doing my work pro-bono under appropriate circumstances is very fulfilling and makes me incredibly happy.
Values and Beliefs
However, the most efficient way to have the desired impact is by pursuing profit while constantly ensuring that my work is properly aligned with my values and beliefs. As entrepreneurs, if we are able to work in such a manner, we will naturally have the desired impact in our work, our choices of clients and service areas would be affected, and we would also maximize our profitability over the long term. Doing so would enable us to better dedicate our resources to further our goals, which are informed by our values and beliefs.
This means that planning should not start with a concept of what we like, what makes us happy, or what we might do for free, but rather with a thorough and detailed inspection of our core beliefs and values. Understanding our beliefs and values will permit a determination of appropriate goals, from which we can extrapolate a plan for achieving the goals.
By way of example, my values and beliefs rest in an understanding that human beings are meant to be as free as possible (experiencing the degree of liberty commensurate with the like liberty to all to brutalize John Stewart Mill), are designed to be productive and fulfilled by work, and that the government is in place to protect the opportunity to flourish, and to set rules and laws that advance a just society where all of the rules are known, are the same for each individual and are applied in the same fashion to everyone. Obviously, many of you reading this will have very different core values and beliefs, and obviously to some degree all of our values and goals are aspirational.
And so, the question is how can the work I do be aligned with these values and beliefs. The answer is simple. All of my work is directed at enabling economic success, maximizing opportunity, which leads to more available work for all, and to supporting and advancing the rule of law, without which opportunity becomes too concentrated in a few, while corruption and graft increases exponentially.
Job Creation and Investing Opportunities
This is why Oppenhuizen Law Firm, PLC focusses on providing services related to investment based immigration, impact investing and cross boarder investments, and restructuring. Investment based immigration in the United States is about job creation and increased economic activity for the communities in our country that need it most. Providing good paying jobs is not just about the money. It is as much about dignity and setting an example for the next generation. Work and pride in doing one’s work well results in self esteem, fulfillment and happiness, while providing opportunity to grow and expand one’s impact. Investment based immigration is also about bringing innovative, driven people to our country in order to expand the economy further.
Impact investing and cross boarder investment is designed to create flourishing economies in the developing world, to protect the environment, and to create opportunity abroad. This area implicitly affirms that business is the means by which poverty can be alleviated, the rule of law can be affirmed and strengthened, and appropriate respect and care for the environment can become engrained in the social fabric of our world. It also implicitly recognizes that it is the local businesses, not international conglomerates are best positioned to address local needs, and innovate in ways that can be scaled and eventually exported.
Small Business in the Developing World
A brief example may help here. Before the massive earthquake in Haiti, a rapidly growing business was installing solar powered street lights. The solar panels for the lights were assembled in Haiti from Hattian components. The company was employing more and more people and had substantial excess production capacity as well as warehoused product. When the earthquake hit the owners of the business went to government officials, and every major NGO and foreign governmental agencies which were all providing funding for solar power in an effort to restore and upgrade the power grid and provide much needed light. Any impact investor would immediately recognize that using a local supplier with a tried and tested product and demonstrated capacity to meet demand as well as the ability and desire to expand and employ more Hattians is the best possible way to move forward. However, the company was brought to its knees because no one would actually take the time to test the product or the business’ capacity, let alone purchase their product. Instead, Haiti waited while the donors purchased solar panels to be shipped from all over the globe. What a missed opportunity!
Restructuring is a necessary part of an entrepreneurial society. It is necessary to insulate risk takers to a reasonable degree, while providing stability in the rules such that lenders, shareholders, suppliers and customers can reasonably assess their risk while making decisions. Restructuring is also often about saving jobs, retaining economic activity that impacts entire communities.
Pro-Bono Work with Oppenhuizen Law Firm
Finally, my pro-bono work is directed at supporting and enhancing the rule of law and growing small businesses in the developing world.
So as you move forward with your strategic plan for 2017, start with values and beliefs, and work toward a holistic view of your business, and the impact that it can have in the community and beyond. Then doggedly pursue profitability in a manner that is consistent with the goals that arise from your core values and beliefs. In doing this not only will you be fulfilled, but you will also put your business in a position that it can use its profits to impact the world.
Oppenhuizen Law Firm, PLC wishes you a happy and prosperous New Year. May you and your business find great success while impacting your community and the world!