The Essence of Business

Below is a post I originally published on my sister blog over a year ago. It briefly describes what business is really all about.

I saw a man yesterday morning making concrete blocks. He was mixing sand, cement and water, and pouring the mixture into a mould. Then he would turn the mould upside down, lift it up, and out came the block. It would be left to dry out in the sun with all the others that were made that morning.

Houses in Nigeria are normally constructed with concrete blocks, and here is someone making them for us. His strength or skill supplies our need. I don’t know how to make blocks. Though it is obvious that you combine those three items, but in what proportion? Too little water would prevent the grains from sticking together and would result in a weak mass of concrete. Excess water does no good, too. It takes skill and knowledge to mix the materials in just the right proportion. What about removing the mould? Do it carelessly and the whole thing falls flat to the ground.

The beauty in this is that I don’t need to learn how to make blocks. Agreed, it’s a weakness for me. On my friend’s resume, however, it’s a glaring strength. Every skill is a strength, whether acquired or innate. And he freely trades it in return for the product of another’s strength, be it food, clothing, or healthcare. By cultivating a skill he is able to meet the needs of others and also his own. Through his work he makes himself useful to others, while the rest of society, in turn, make themselves useful to him.

This is the essence of business.

I love to receive readers’ comments and feedback.

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