What is a “Business”?

In a meeting this afternoon, the speaker was talking about dealing with entities of different sizes, and made the observation that the larger the organization, the more it functions “like a business”. That comment lead me to ask, (rhetorically - not out loud for God’s sake - I have my career to think of), “Just what is a business?”

For example, a Mom and Pop operation, sells a product, takes in money, even makes a profit - to me they have a “business”. Perhaps Mom “keeps the books”, but they never call her the Chief Financial Officer. Pop always keeps the website up to date (let’s make this a modern example), but he doesn’t go by the title Chief Information Officer. That’s still a business.

As time goes by, Mom and Pop meet success and take on more help to meet the needs of their business and customers. Let’s say they have a dozen employees now. Is that a business?

Yes (to me), No (to the speaker).

OK, I’m making fun of this person, and I know what he meant. As a business grows in size it takes on the attributes of a business one encounters in business school: regular accounting, an organization that resembles a top-down flow chart, employees with titles that mean something to the outside world. But his lack of comfort with small entities was telling. I hope we are not ignoring those folks just because we don’t relate to them on the same terms. Lost opportunity if we do.

Also heard at the meeting: Someone said we had a lot of “synergy”, to which another replied, “Oh yeah, we got tons of synergy with that.” - - At this point I've made my peace with "synergy", but “Tons” of synergy??

Also, “talk to” - as in, “I can talk to that slide”. Does no one else find this phrase ridiculous? At its most literal, we have a man - alone in a room - addressing a PowerPoint slide. That’s very sad and lonely. Even if you know what it means - - Perhaps: During my presentation I will explain the content of that slide in more detail - - it’s just poor English


Sue A said…
Oh, don't get me started on made-up business words...

"Incentivize" "Ideation" "Touch-point meeting" it just never ends!
amy said…
wow....it sounds like the business world has been inundated with Bush-isms!
John G. said…
Speaking of touch-points, we use the "touch point model" here. That involves - amongst other things - counting "touches" made with accounts. We also refer to sales leads as either "Hard" or "Soft" leads. Through in a little "market penetration" discussion, and I've seen meetings where we discuss hard and soft leads, touches, and penetration. To our credit, we usually break out laughing at this point.
Sue A said…
Good to know that the ridiculousness is not lost on many and good old Bevis and Butthead humor still has a place.

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