Lets see Who does get the credit for building businesses

August 6, 2012
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President Barack Obama actually said it: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

This was a statement by the president of the United States belittling the efforts of the people upon whom we depend to pull us out of this government-created economic disaster.

He is a Harvard graduate and president of the world’s strongest economic country.

So let’s see who builds a business. We are going to give credit where credit is due.

Do employees build businesses?

They are certainly important. The better the employee, generally speaking, the better the business. You really can't build a substantial business without them. But do they build the business for the owner?

For a while in the late ’70s, I was the third-highest paid person in my business. I worked more, had more education and experience, and had all the financial responsibility for the enterprise. Why did I work more for less? Because I wanted to build something. I did not hire people looking to start a business; I hired people looking for a job.

Everybody wants to be a successful business owner. They just don't want the responsibility, risk and effort it takes. People looking for a job need to find an employer. Somebody has to have a business for them to get a job. No business owners, no jobs. The job creator comes first.

Do banks build businesses?

They certainly help. We are not talking about Wall Street bankers here. Wall Street bankers are just a reincarnation of Frank and Jesse James with modern technology and political connections.

Grand Rapids is blessed with a wealth of financial institutions. A lot of Grand Rapids’ business development has been due to our banking community.

In order for business banking to succeed, banks must find quality customers. They are looking for successful businesses that are profitable so they can repay a loan plus interest and fees. Do they talk to the janitor, production worker, sales clerk or truck driver about the loan? And, most of all, who is going to personally guarantee the loan? Looks like if there is no entrepreneur, there is no bank customer and, extrapolated out, no banking jobs.

Do customers build businesses?

They are important: Without customers, there is no business. But it took people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Billy Durant and Henry Ford to build the optimal business that created millions of jobs through innovations that better served the customer. It was entrepreneurs who built the products so consumers could become customers.

Without business, we would still be hunters and gatherers. Skip the Lexus. You won’t need it because it's only a short walk to where you grow and gather your food, hoping that you don't end up being dinner as opposed to gathering dinner. Without firearms manufacturers, carnivores would have a bit of an upper hand.

Customers do come first, but without entrepreneurs to fill their needs, they wouldn’t last long.

Does government build businesses?

No! I met a man a few years ago who was a Harvard graduate. I told him I envied him because, with a Harvard diploma on the wall, he had instant credibility. As a University of Detroit graduate, I had to prove myself every day.

Yet, it’s a Harvard graduate who has stated that small business owners did not build their businesses.

George Custer graduated from West Point, yet he led his men into an ambush he should have seen coming. Barbara Tuchman's book "The March of Folly, From Troy to Vietnam" documents the folly government has perpetrated on its citizens for 3,000 years.

Education and elected office do not guarantee results. A fool can win an election, and education credentials prove the capacity to memorize, not to think.

The president’s statement was a case of a man's core beliefs overcoming what his education and his experience should have taught him. On an intellectual level, he knows the statement is incorrect. His culture and political background are where he emotionally lives.

How could he make such a fundamentally flawed statement? In his mind, he knows we are right, but he can't reconcile it with his heart or his political party’s agenda.

Paul Hense is the retired president of local accounting firm Hense & Associates. He also is past chairman of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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