Jobs Versus Profits, Busy Versus Productive

I saw this Tweet and really liked it.

“You can’t love jobs and hate the people who create them.” – Art Laffer

I am a second generation business owner. When my father was 49 years old he was downsized from his sales job after a merger. Mom and Dad had nine kids and the three oldest were in college when he found himself out of work. My uncle Jim Abernathy had started Executive Data Control as a means to make a little extra money selling continuous computer forms. My Dad saw an opportunity and bought the little business.

I have a hard time imagining how difficult these years were for Mom and Dad. My mom got a job and Dad started selling from his home office. He kept at it for five hard years before he became profitable. We kids were happy at the time; however, I noticed that my friends had Converse shoes and Levis jeans while I wore JC Penney brands. I remember wishing my jeans would fade “right”.

As my Dad says now, “Failure was not an option.” Through hard work and sacrifice the company turned the corner and started to grow. He hired people and committed to growing his business. I really admire my father and the organization he built.

His focus was on growing the company and remaining profitable. “Profit solves everything”, he used to say. Retained earnings were a must to weather inevitable downturns. By focusing on profit and keeping strong financials, Dad created jobs for many people. At one point he employed 22 people.

I get worried about the latest political focus on jobs and not profit. Some folks seem to think that profit means greed and jobs are the imperative,  jobs versus profits. I disagree; profitability creates productivity and opportunity for growth. I watched my Father closely and that is how he lived. It is a paradox, companies focused on profit create more jobs; companies focused on jobs create busy work and waste. There is a huge difference between being busy and being productive.

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