The raison d’être of a business goes far beyond profitability. It’s true that a business needs profit like human beings need oxygen. If you take it away, certain death will be the consequence, yet it’s not our primary reason for living.
A business lives out of something much deeper than just profit. There’s more to business than what is traceable in a textbook. At the core of a business is something that can’t be easily explained. It’s more of a feeling than a fact. So how does one best convey that to an aspiring business student?
At CUA, our freshmen business students’ first assignment is to each start their own “company.” Specifically, each student is asked to start a special interest blog. By exploring what they have to offer others in terms of their unique interest or expertise, they create a website that explains and explores this topic and recommends various products along the way.
These blogs are then monetized in part through strategies such as affiliate marketing. As an affiliate of websites like Amazon
, the student earns a bonus each time someone buys through one of their links. Thus each student creates their own “small business” during the first semester of their freshman year.
This simple exercise serves better than any lecture I could give or any book I could recommend to have someone experience the true purpose and motivation of business: Business is not selfish but inherently “other directed.” Businesses have to offer a product or service that target customers are willing to buy. Business starts with putting myself in the other person’s shoes to see the world from his or her perspective. That is the substantive difference between selfishness and self-interest. It’s a point that you can only learn by doing.
And learn they do: Every time I teach the course, I am astonished at the marvelous expertise, experiences and knowledge the students have to offer. Their blogs range from how to raise chickens
to where to buy the best makeup
, from starting an art collection to finding the ideal community service
, and they never cease to amaze me.
Have a look
yourself (and spread the word!) And if you like one, please tweet it with the hashtag #CUAstudentblog.
The process of business is simple but profound: You start simply with a thought, an idea in your head. By focusing on it and your action, it slowly becomes a physical reality. You have become a creator. In fact, this act of creation exactly mimics the very first act of creation: God thought of the world and it came into existence. Think about it: when we work, we actually imitate God! This is why I believe that business is a noble calling, even a spiritual undertaking. It is in the very sense of the word a path to holiness.
Originally posted at the Catholic University of America Blog.