I was at a breakfast meeting recently with a lot of people who like to talk about business. I mean really like to talk business. We find it exciting and consider the proper, principled conduct in business part of our purpose. Yep. BizGeeks.
The conversation started with the recent freefall in the price of precious metals, meandered past the housing market, poked a little into the international climate, and circled around to the bull stock market. The comment was made that part of the reasons the stock markets have been so strong is that so many companies have put themselves in a position to have a fantastic looking balance sheet by hoarding cash over the past few years.
The reasons are less than inspiring. The absence of sure-fire investment opportunities and the uncertainty of government regulations has made it easier to cut staff, keep doing what you’re doing and stockpile money. To achieve a bigger cash balance, they have cut costs and often eliminated jobs. That’s when I heard an observation that blew the mind of this business geek.
“The real problem in business is that companies are having trouble coming up with new ideas to do things that are useful and productive.”
My friend, Paul Nordt, III, made that observation. Paul is the CEO of John C. Nordt Company, a precious metals manufacturer, and also an Access client. He’s battled yo-yo commodities prices, sweeping changes in his industry and changes in consumer preferences and continues to fight the good fight by coming up with new and better methods for producing a great product.
The purpose of business is not to build a balance sheet and fatten a financial war chest. The purpose of business is to provide jobs and be an engine of prosperity and, yes, enjoy the spoils of that success. It also has an obligation, in my opinion, to build on its success.
It’s a lot like the old church song, This Little Light of Mine. Businesses must choose to let their light shine and not hide it under a bushel. But who will figure out what to do? Where are our new horizons? There is nothing more intimidating that a blank piece of paper.
As we approach a time when many new college graduates are coming into the workforce and many high school grads are heading into college, the opportunity is clear for people with original ideas and the will to see those ideas through. The ability to generate and implement sound new ideas remains the most indispensable of talents.
Todd Marcum, President