“Invest in truth and wisdom,
discipline and good sense, and don’t part with them.”
-Proverbs 23:23 (CEV)
Take for example the case of Barnes & Noble (B&N).
B&N is now determining whether its heavy investment on Nook e-reader, introduced in 2009, has been a profitable business venture or not. According to a report published in the New York Times, the book retailer’s Nook media division has losses for this year that are bigger than last year and revenues that lag far behind expectations.
Some speculates that the losses will end the life of the company’s Nook media division. There are also those who believe that the book retailer will shift focus to content distribution, which is considered its core strength.
Two business realities can be construed in this recent development on B&N’s Nook e-reader investment:
1.) A promising investment may not necessarily yield the expected revenue in around four years.
2.) Investing on a company’s core strength can be a strategic approach in the long-term.
How can these business realities be applied to investing in truth and wisdom, discipline and good sense?
1.) A Christian business owner may not see a climb in profits in the early-stage of investment.
2.) Human capital is a source of leverage for any company and investing on it can prove to be strategic in the long-term.
A company, whether Christian-owned or not, cannot run away from the system of the society. It is no secret that, in this world, a business venture is considered successful when it is profitable. The opposite is also true: when an investment doesn’t earn in a given timeframe, it is a failure.
Although the said simplified dichotomy may not be the perspective of a Christian business owner who considers business dealings as a form of worship, the current business atmosphere calls for a careful assessment on the matter.
It will be strategic for a Christian business owner to employ certain measures to gauge the magnitude of monetary gains from investing into employees’ wisdom and truth, discipline and common sense and the time it will take for the company to reap all those benefits.
Like the B&N’s Nook e-reader, the investment in wisdom and truth, discipline and common sense may not translate to monetary value until after five or ten years in execution. Now, when this happens, the response and subsequent approaches of the business owner matters: should policies and programs motivated by the desire to invest on these intangible assets be abandoned or should they be reassessed, refined and refocused, and then re-executed?
B&N is likely to change course. It may solely focus on licensing its content and let the device makers do the engineering and building of digital devices for them. Currently, B&N makes the hardware for its digital content.
A book detailing the failures of investing on human capital has yet to be published. All researchers and business professionals agree that investing in human capital is strategic. Only that, they differ on how to implement approaches to enrich this fundamental source of strength to any company.
A quote from Winston Churchill comes to mind whenever return-on-investment (ROI) for intangible assets is at the center of a business discussion:
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
Investing in truth and wisdom, discipline and good sense, and sticking with them can be an uphill climb. However, remember that doing something that is right is fruitful in and of itself, even before a price tag can be attached to it. While monetary gain is an essential determiner of success, it is not an end in itself. It is simply one of the means to understand the value of a given investment to the lifespan of a business.
Further discussion on the importance of wisdom/truth, discipline and good-sense and their practical application for running businesses in a biblical way is set for the third and last part of this article series. You can check the first part of this article series here.
Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013
Originally published at www.cfcbe.com. © 2013, The Center for Christian Business Ethics Today. All Rights Reserved.
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