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What should a business be today and what is the best way to achieve it?

I would like to ask the Ted community what a business should be at the very core. Should a business make money and how should it raise its funds? Where should a business be located and what values should it hold at heart? What are examples of corporations you admire?

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  • Nov 19 2012: To answer your first question "Should a business make money?" Every business including non-profit organizations have to turn a profit to continue to keep the doors of that vaery business open. Even a non profit organization has to have a plan on how they will continue to provide a service or a need to the public. At the core of that organization is how can we turn a profit. Regarding location of a business that should truly be determined on the nedd of that product in any particular area. You should also take into consideration competition, tax implications, as well as can the be done more effeciently outside of where you plan to operate your business. So when you look at corporations I admire you have to look at companies that have had longevity, global product, and well run. The first business that comes to mind is Mcdonalds. I dot have to give any introduction to their brand and what they provide as a business due to how well organized as a corporation and widespread through out the world. I have not traveled to every country in the world, however I do expect to see a Mcdonalds throughout the majority of the world and I know what I am about to consume.
  • Nov 17 2012: I think corporations are inherently problematic. The corporate imperative has become narrowly focused on making as much short term profit as possible. Unfortunately this virtually compels those who run the business to ignore any social factors which interfere with those profits. Even the most moral and ethical corporate leaders are compelled both legally and practically to pursue that imperative.

    Ideally, a business should be started when an unfulfilled need has been identified by an individual or group of individuals who have the means and the will to fulfill that need. Profits should be a pleasant by-product of serving the community.
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    Nov 16 2012: At the core, a business provides a good or a service. I myself believe the people running the business should like the good or service they are providing, like the way it feels to make a particular product or service. And they should be better at it than most other people, if they make chairs, for example, they should be better at making chairs than most other people.
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    Nov 6 2012: "Should a business make money" Answer: A business that does not make money can be identified by the out of business sign on the door. "How should it raise funds" Answer: By the sale of products and services. "Where should a business be located" Answer: Where there is a demand for the service or product being offered. "What values should it hold" Answer: As Edward has recommended being Legal and ethical.

    I cannot think of a single corporation that does not have a crack in its armor somewhere. Corporations are made up of people and the main objective is to make money to keep the stockholders happy. When a loss occurs and the stockholders do not get paid then the leadership changes. Ethical and moral violations will get your hand smacked but the loss of money will get you fired.

    It is to our shame that failure is rewarded. CEOs who get big bucks upon departure for poor performance. Even the stimuluses and bailouts of poorly managed companies. That is why we have bankrupcy laws.

    When our countries CEOs (elected officials) cheat, lie, steal, and conduct back door operations what image does that tell the citizens about good and bad .. morals and ethics ... it has become "it is only wrong if you get caught" type of leadership. Remember that government is the business of the people. Why should we expect more from a corporation that our elected officials.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Nov 6 2012: Business should operate on a system designed to realize maximization of profits through legal and ethical means.
    • Nov 6 2012: How can one maximize profits AND be ethical? Do you mean putting a cap on businesses?
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        Nov 6 2012: Ye Gads! Your question implies that profits can only be maximized by illegal and/or unethical means. Do you mean to say that? The only "Cap" I advocate is Legal and Ethical. If it's illegal, don't do it. If it's unethical, don't do it. The End.
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      Nov 6 2012: That of course, assuming that what is legal is also what is ethically right (not always the case)

      How do we handle unethical but legal activities?
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        Nov 6 2012: The rule is, "If it is unethical, don't do it!" The rule is not, "If it's unethical, but legal, do it."
  • Nov 6 2012: Businesses should be much more socially, culturally and environmentally conscious. Businesses should value innovation and embrace change in an ever expanding body of knowledge and possibilities and work to better humanity, not only themselves. Social entrepreneurs already embrace this concept, but there is a profound lack of them out there. We must encourage scientists, engineers, designer, artists and social innovators to come together and speak up about our technological possibilities that can change our world. This is the ultimate challenge of the 21st century.
  • Nov 6 2012: Make a profit.

    Be sensitive to your customers' needs

    Treat your employees well and make it an enjoyable place to work.

    Make quality a hallmark of your product.

    Invest in infrastructure improvement commensurate with your success, particularly design, engineering and production.

    Businesses I like include: Sun Micro systems, Dell, Chick-fillet, E-Bay, Nikon, Victornox, Tiffany, Rolex, Google, Microsoft, IKEA, Proctor & Gamble, MITRE, W.L Gore, Rockport, CISCO, AMAZON, Nordstrom

    I would look for products I like, happy employees, make something people need and profitability. I do not care much for investing companies, insurance companies or financial services companies.
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    Nov 4 2012: A business should balance with wisdom the provision of quality services and profit making.
    Leaders of businesses should seek integrity, probity and accountability in themselves; and loyalty, dedication, passion and hard work in their followers/staff.
  • Nov 4 2012: Hello Christopher

    well, allow me to share my experience. I have run many little businesses - I have to admit some successful and some unsuccessful - through this process I have learn the most valuable lessons that money couldn't buy.

    it doesn't matter what you do or what is your business, but what matters is if your customer benefit from your existence. when they are happy that you are there, then you have a successful business.

    I personally follow Virgin Group, and Apple and surely enough their way of leadership.

    a few years ago I read a non-business book, (very unlikely to me). it was WALDEN - Life in the woods, by Henry David Thoreau ... there was a passage that picked my interest and it become my motto in business. it goes something like this:
    "The best investment is the goodness that never fails"

    you may want to invest goodness in your life in order not to fail, but this about investing goodness in your business as well.

    check Richard Branson at TED.com

    cheers
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    Nov 4 2012: It should find out what people want and then produce it the way people want it produced. If they don't make money they will not exist. It should be located where it's customers want it located. The purpose of the business is to serve the customer. (this is not the purpose of the owner of the business, what the owner wants is irrelevant)

    One stands out, Toyota, any business that makes a profit is admirable