What are businesses for?

What are businesses ultimately for? The profits of the shareholders? The jobs of the staff? The families of the staff? The customers whom it is selling products to? Economics tells us that by pursuing profits of the shareholders for the firm, everything else works out beautifully. We trusted that to some extent for a really long time but soon realised that there were too many externalities.

Regulations stacked on to deal with them; but then soon it was clear that regulators often have an interest to keep businesses running as well. There was some short-sightedness in trying to keep their jobs. It’s the same with a government who sees that keeping businesses running sustains the economy and activities which will keep the society in order. And that profit-making enterprise has been elevated to the top of the economic hierarchy.

What if we could all be working for impact, for the environment, for livelihoods not measured in profits, for our future and future generations? Won’t that be something worth building? B-corps, non-profits, social enterprises would be a start; but we need to help businesses evolve to serve the society for the next stage of our development.