Skip to main content

"What makes life worth living?"

The Burning Man question:

"What makes life
worth living?"
~ Larry Harvey, founder,
The Burning Man Festival

This is not a question economists know how to ask let alone answer.  Yet it is the driving question you must answer when making any life decision such as whether or not to start a business. 
Why?  How do you quantify or measure quality of life with numbers?  Figure that out and you'll win a Nobel in Economics.

Rather, economists spend their careers quantifying what they can and of necessity ignoring any aspect of quality of life that cannot be set to numbers. 

So in the dismal world inhabited by economists, the ONLY reason to start a business is growth as defined by increasing (or decreasing) some numbers of "things", usually money or jobs or efficiency or productivity.  Economists have no language for discussing the core reasons for starting and running a business.  Take Mr. Harvey's guiding principle for his Burning Man organization, until recently, a for-profit business.

What makes life worth living?
What could starting and owning a business add to a life well-spent?  Or, what possible reasons would any sane human being have to endure the risk and hard work of starting a business?

I can name of a few, in no particular order:
  • Self-sufficiency.
  • Survival.
  • Creativity.
  • Pride of achievement.
  • Charity.
  • Independence.
  • Fraternity.
  • Community.
  • Family heritage.
  • Freedom.
Surely you can add those things important to you.

How could anyone set these important factors to the music of numbers?  As quality of life cannot be expressed in numbers, it get short shrift by economists and their models and theories.

"Economics is simply accounting on steroids."

My message: the "science" of economics is a tool of limited usefulness, not a model for measuring success in life, and most certainly a weak concept around which to run a government of the people.  As a science, Economics is completely incapable of considering the most important things in life.  To be clear, Economics is simply accounting on steroids, nothing more, nothing less. 

If you live your life pursuing any economic model without regard to quality of life - your own and the lives of others - you'll live a poor life indeed.

*  *  *  *  *

The Entrepreneur's Bookshelf ~
The more you know about small business management and financing before you start, the more likely you are to succeed.  That's why I urge anyone thinking of starting a business to contact their local Small Business Development Center or Community College.  I have also organized this bookshelf for you at Powell's Books, the world's largest single site new and used bookstore, featuring the latest books on small business start-ups, marketing, and small business money management.   
A Selection Related to this Post:

Click on this link to see all the selections on ~

* * * * *


Popular posts from this blog

Earn a Living Shining Shoes. . . Really

Earning a Living as a Bootblack
Can someone make a living shining shoes in today's economy?  At on time there shoe shine boys as they were called were found on street corners across the country, thousands of them.  Many were from poor families and worked to help support themselves and their families.  Today, I found three established shoe shine stands in downtown Seattle, plus two bootblacks, the traditional name of those who shine shoes, working on the streets of Seattle.

Meet George Johnson, age 74 on October 20th, a self-employed operator of a shoe shine stand in downtown Seattle's Rainier Place.  George has been shining shoes for the last sixty years, starting in Arkansas and ending up some thirty years ago at the Washington Athletic club a few blocks from his current location.
"Sixty years," I asked him the day we met.  "You ever think of retiring?"

"Gonna work until I can't do it no more," he replied.  "I don't even think about i…

The Facts of the Small Business Survival Rate

Back thirty years ago when I first wrote about small business, a hoary and horrible statistic was bandied about, even by some of the most experienced entrepreneurial pros: "80% of new businesses fail in their first five years." 

This "statistic" has appeared in more places than you can imagine, from the leading small business magazines, books, presentations by employees of SBDCs, the SBA, SCORE, Chambers of Commerce, even professors on the college level - who should know better than to quote un-sourced numbers.  It still shows up in small-business blogs today.

For some years, I searched for a source of that statisitic.  Never found where that number came from, leading me to believe that some self-appointed expert made it up.  To quote a character from the popular television show, M*A*S*H, "Horsepucky." 

Here is the truth about the survival rate of new start up businesses in the U.S. economy from two unimpeachable sources, The Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundati…

The Seven Characteristics of the Creative Employee.

How to Find Good Employees:

On my post of February 18th of this year, we talked about the role of managing stupidity in the success of any organization.  "Stupidity Management" refers to the real need of a business to know the difference between routine tasks that must be completed by rote and those tasks that require innovation and fresh thinking.  

Every business has a need for discipline in tasks that must be performed the same way, each and every time.

Every business has a need to creative thinking and fresh ideas on certain other tasks or problems, just not every task of problem.  

The Hunt for the Creative Individual
There are certain jobs in every organization where you, the owner, need original thinking.  Or perhaps you're running a business that lives off original thinkers.  An advertising agency is a business where the company's assets walk out the door every day at five (ish).

Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen at BI Norwegian Business School has conducted a study to…