Working with small business owners, I hear a lot of questions that have the same, one-word answer.

How do I grow my business to go full-time?

How do I make more money while working less?

How do I get into a position to be able to hire someone?

What do I need to expand my business?  

The answer, every time, in some form or fashion:  Profit.

Profit is the result of serving people well.  It can also be the result of serving people poorly, but that’s less often the case.  Profit is what’s left over when you’ve provided a product or service that brings value to someone else’s life.

That word, profit, has gained a bad rap in a society over-obsessed with income [in]equality.  The news media reports on the profits of big banks, oil companies, and hedge funds with condemnation.  They focus on CEOs’ compensation packages, executive benefit plans, and income disparities.  Faceless corporations or fat-cat businessmen are disproportionately cast as the antagonists in television and media.

We think this doesn’t influence us, but the more we are exposed to it, a deep-seeded suspicion and resentment toward profit begins to take root.  We want to make money (and lots of it), but somewhere inside we think, “Is this okay? I don’t want to be like those greedy businessmen.”  We distrust businesses, and we even hamper ourselves in our efforts to grow our own enterprises.

Rabbi Daniel Lappin dissects this whole problem beautifully in his book, Thou Shall Prosper.  The very first chapter discusses the key, that you must “Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business.”  Tucked into this chapter is this gem:

“Making money is much harder if, deep down, you suspect it to be a morally reprehensible activity.”

For example, let’s say you oppose alcohol consumption and you believe it to be responsible for many of the social evils we face today.  If you hold that position, you’re going to be a terrible wine salesman.  You’re going to hate your job, your boss is going to hate your work, and your clients won’t really be interested in buying from you.

To make money and really be successful at it, you have to believe that making money is an inherently moral activity.

It is a good thing to profit.  It’s a good thing to serve people well, and for them to give you money in exchange for your product or service that enhanced their lives.

Profit is the reason we have Starbucks and iPhones.  Profit is what has brought us the technologies that enhance and expand our lives.

Greater profit can allow you to work less and make the same amount of money or more!

More profit allows you to grow your business through hiring and investment.

Becoming highly profitable makes entrepreneurship (and all the stress and frustration that comes with it) worthwhile.

Go make some profit.

Question: How has media shaped your perception of profit?  What are your feelings toward profit?