When we hear the word “economics” we tend to retreat quickly to lighter topics instead of anchoring ourselves for a thoughtful discussion.

A Business On Purpose is a business that is eager to learn about and contribute to multiple economies

Three books that have been a priority for me recently are…

  1. The Divine Conspiracy Continued (Willard/Black)
  2. The Economics Of Neighborly Love (Nelson)
  3. Good Work (Schumacher)

All of them reference the priority of paying attention to the economy.  That is not the same as paying attention to the anxiety-inducing 24-hour business news cycle.

Nelson breaks “economics” down to its roots: 

  • The “eco” comes from the word “oikos”…a house
  • The “nomy” comes from the word “nomos”…the law

Economics quite literally is the “law of the house”.  We can make the term more palatable and digestible by saying that economics is simply “caring for or managing the household”.

Each of us lives within the larger context of multiple economies…or households.  I live in at least five economies that I can count…

  1. Our personal home and family economy (household to manage)
  2. Our Lowcountry economy (household to manage)
  3. Our regional economy (household to manage)
  4. Our national economy (household to manage)
  5. Our global economy (household to manage)

Why does it matter?  

Soon I will be heading back to West Africa where we have built friendships and relationships for the past 13 years.  Good ole’ fashioned “aid” was our ambition when we first started. You will see our dilemma if you read the powerful book When Helping Hurts (Corbett & Fikkert).

We have since transitioned our relationships in the region to focus more on economic development and human flourishing.  Not “us” bring those concepts to “them”, but instead “we” working collectively to improve all of the economies that we have the ability to impact.  

There are two core elements of economic development that YOU can begin impacting right now.

First, profit.  Profit is not an American idea…this is a commercial concept that has been promoted since the foundation of human commercial transaction.  Meandering through a market in the East or Middle East will expose you to millions of merchants all laboring to serve their common economy and generate profit.

Profit is found in work.  

Not all work of course.  We have seen some people work very hard and generate very little to no profit.  An Architect told me one time, “I just realized I have been running a non-profit architecture firm for 24 years!

Proverbs tells us “in all labor there is profit…but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Notice, there is profit in labor…but you still have to identify it and segment profit.

The second element of cultivation and development that helps transform an economy is generosity.

Generosity is usually presumed to be charitable gifts.  Certainly, that is an element of generosity, and there are others…

Generosity can be found in extending a loan with generous terms and thoughtful support so that another member of your economy can start a profitable business.

Generosity can be found in sharing contacts, ideas, and expertise.

Generosity can be found in scaling a business in order to provide excellent jobs for others to display their own narrow brilliance.  

This year we have challenged each of our heroic business owner clients to anonymously report their cash profit AND report their generosity.

We are going to hold ourselves accountable so our five economies can grow in profit AND in generosity as we build a business on purpose.  

Want to invest more time in building a business on purpose?  You can register for our next Business On Purpose Webinar free here at BOPWebinar.com

Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters.  Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.