A World of Business

When the people of southern Mesopotamia developed the world’s first writing around 3100 BC, they did it for a purpose: to record amounts of different crops. In other words, in a very real sense, one of civilization’s greatest inventions, writing, was created in order to do business!

“Business” can have many definitions, but in general it’s described as a firm, company or enterprise designed to provide goods or services through sales and purchases, also known as transactions. There’s been a significant rise over the past decade of small-business ownership, particularly among minorities and women. The U.S. Small Business Administration defines a “small business” in many categories as one that has 500 employees or fewer. That means that most of us work in a “small business.”

Whether you sell widgets or wall-to-wall carpeting, keep accounts or wash clothes, there are certain things about business you need to have. Otherwise, you’re out of business, also known as ‘SOL’.

First, you need to offer something that people want. It might be shampoo or soda pop, cosmetics or chicken coops. With the advent of the Internet, information has become one of the biggest commodities in business today. It isn’t just the information itself, mind you; it’s the way the information is gathered and organized, or sliced, diced and otherwise dissected for use.

Now that you’ve decided on a product or service, you need to let people know that you’ve got. That’s where a specific aspect of business called “marketing” comes in. There was a time when a simple advertisement in the local newspaper was sufficient to bring business your way. Nowadays, however, there are so many different types of media competing for people’s attention that a savvy business owner has to think of multiple outlets for his or her message.

Furthermore, you need to keep track of your transactions, your inventory, your labor costs and administration – what it takes to do business. Pretty soon you find yourself employing lots of folks who don’t actually make what you sell, but you couldn’t do business without them!

Finally, there’s something of a revolution sweeping through business today, and it, too, is a result of the Internet. It’s called “customer-oriented” or “user-oriented” business. In this new model, your clients or customers aren’t just people you want to buy your goods or services; they’re your partners, stakeholders in what you produce.

This reality has led to the rise of all kinds of anonymous consumer polls, in which companies test new products or service, or gather information about customers’ likes and dislikes. Smart business folks seek out feedback from clients and customers, because their exchange establishes a mutually beneficial relationship. In this kind of cooperative commercial model, the customer benefits from shaping goods or services to his or her specific needs, while the business benefits from developing a long-lasting market for its improved wares.

The nature of business varies greatly from country to country around the world, but all businesses have similar things in common: exchanging goods or services through transactions so that we all can obtain the means for life. That makes “business” the business of every nation.