Very young and growing up on a farm, and obviously with my mother’s help, I planted and raised some radishes. A few bunches were placed for sale in the cooler at the local grocery in the tiny Texas town of McDade. If a bunch was sold I received a nickel; if not I received nothing. A powerful early lesson on free enterprise: for benefits to all something must be sold.
Our system of free enterprise capitalism has made America the greatest country in the world. Our nation’s founders through our Constitution created a nation of laws which harnessed a human’s natural self-interest to benefit each and every American.
This system is most clearly revealed in a small business enterprise . . . Most enterprises begin small. And then try to survive and grow. As most begin with few resources and little experience, good personal qualities possessed by the owner are a necessity. These qualities are free to them. All else drains their scarce resources.
So they must be honest. If they have served the same area for ten plus years you could comfortably hand them your wallet filled with credit cards and cash and not worry. Since their reputation is often all they have they will do nothing to damage it. They know that a reputation which has taken years to develop can be lost in a moment. Particularly today where everything can be immediately publicized on the internet.
They must be givers not takers. Since the purpose of a business is to obtain and retain a customer, every successful business owner knows that at the outset they must give more than they receive. They have full knowledge that the benefits will come back to them later many times over with repeat customers.
They must be financially savvy. With their often quite meager resources otherwise they would not survive.
They must be tough. With the ever-present paucity of cash and other resources in our very competitive free enterprise system this quality is demanded of them daily.
But most importantly they must have the ability to survive. Most do not. Fifty-one percent of their brethren fail within five years, sixty-six percent within ten.
Yet despite the personal requirements and difficulties, twenty-eight million small business owners create sixty-three percent of all new American jobs. And interestingly eighty percent employ fewer than five people, ninety percent fewer than ten.
With their large business counterparts, there is an encouraging trend today. These large businesses have become much more customer friendly than earlier. Being greeted when you walk in their doors is now quite common. With the severe competition in all business today and with internet transparency, they too must operate as a small business in order to survive.
One illustration of this comes from the fortuitous visit I had with the president of a large grocery chain. Like his competitors he employs a manager for each store to operate that store’s system. But unlike his competitors who use the same system throughout many stores, he has a different operating system for each of his stores depending on the needs of customers in each geographical area. He acknowledged that having a multitude of systems rather than one made all aspects of managing more difficult. But because he has submitted to each customer’s requirements his business has grown dramatically.
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America has been fortunate to have a president with a business background. After eight years of a flat economy under President Obama, in a year and a half President Trump has created a booming American economy. By reducing regulations and cutting taxes, he has increased business efficiency and unleashed the entrepreneurial spirit of American capitalism. And he has done this despite the fact that his situation is akin to being a CEO of a corporation whose employees have mostly been hired by his competitors.
But despite this obvious progress in our economy many Millennials with socialistic ideas do not understand the benefits of free enterprise capitalism. They have no grasp of the fact that with Socialism you soon run out of other people’s money.
So to correct this, free enterprise capitalism must be taught beginning in elementary school and continue through high school. Every graduating high school senior should have a thorough knowledge of how wealth in America is created. They should be taught why our standard of living is the envy of the world. They should learn that government does not create prosperity; free enterprise does. They should learn how free enterprise sustains our freedoms. They should learn how it provides the wealth which allows for their protection and their ability to live in a stable society where few are deprived. For America to be sustained all Americans everywhere should have a strong appreciation of this profound yet simple fact.