No question, a business must maintain a profit to remain in business.  I question, however, the concept that making a profit is the purpose of business.  For me, the purpose of business is to serve its community, both internally – those who serve the purpose of the business – and externally –  whether local, national or global.   The sustainability of a business is dependent upon whether it continues to serve a purpose to that community.

In my own work experience, I have witnessed businesses lose balance and topple because they lose sight of their purpose, favoring investors (or the proverbial shareholder) over the internal and/or external community (otherwise known as stakeholders).  Likewise, I have seen businesses prosper because they keep sight of all stakeholders even in the face of investor scrutiny.

In this discussion hosted by American Public Media and the BBC – http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/marketplace-live/marketplace-live-what-difference-four-years-does-not-make – two themes arise:  1) We must return to living within our means and 2) the financial industry must return to a purpose of stewardship.  How have we lost the sense in too many cases that business be the steward of purpose and expertise, be  trusted advisers, in our communities?  And, how do we find that purpose once again?

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