Ethical Ambition

There is a perception among the general public that business is unethical. When people think of business, specifically business competition, they picture two gladiators entering an arena. Two enter, but only one leaves. This zero sum nature of business derives, in part, from the way that people view capitalism.

Now, as we all know, capitalism is the dominant economic model on the planet. It is based on the idea of free markets, where supply and demand self-regulates pricing. So, if there is a large supply of a commodity and a correspondingly low demand, then the price of the particular commodity will be low. Conversely, if there is a high demand for a commodity and a correspondingly low supply, then the price of that particular commodity will be high.

In addition, businesses also affect process. If the demand for a commodity is high and the supply is low, a business can see this as an opportunity for profit. The business can begin producing the commodity in question, thereby satisfying consumer demand and turning a profit in the process. If consumer demand is high enough, multiple businesses can compete for a share of a particular market. The business that succeeds in taking and keeping a share of this market succeeds and continues on.

The business that fails to take or keep its share of the market disappears. It is the market’s version of survival of the fittest.
This battle for survival is reflected in the language of business. You cut a deal when you contract for business. A particularly savvy businessperson can be described as someone who takes no prisoners. A business that successfully achieves a larger market share for its products or services is said to have crushed its competition.

The behaviuor of some large corporations does nothing to dispel this ruthless image. The news is filled with examples of corporations intentionally committing unethical and even illegal acts in order to secure market share and its corresponding profitability. The names Enron, BP Challenger and Exxon Valdez are infamous examples of this phenomenon.

Competition is a fact of life when it comes to business. However, this fact does not necessarily mean that a businessperson must do anything in order to win. Winning certainly is the goal of any business. However, winning at any cost cannot be a goal if the business wishes to remain truly successful. A truly successful entrepreneur knows that all ambition must be tempered with ethical thought and behaviour. Anything less, and there can be no real and lasting success.

Keep it Real,

Mark Lyford.

Ethical Ambition

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