In 1925, Calvin Coolidge gave a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors about the role of the press in American life in which he famously declared “the chief business of the American people is business.”
Calvin probably had his finger on the pulse of the U.S. pretty well. The stock market was flying, business was booming after World War I, and optimism was the order of the day.
Today it seems that not much has changed. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 50% of full-time salaried workers and 26% of full-time hourly workers in the U.S. work more than 50 hours a week. Entrepreneurship is booming; every day we are bombarded with advertisements for the latest trendy food truck or hand-made hipster shoes on Kickstarter or the local tech startup looking to make it big.
It’s easy to get caught up in the current enthusiasm for business. If you’re running a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the desire to double your profits or the need to keep your business afloat. It’s easy to find yourself working 50 or 60 hours a week and missing time with your kids or your spouse or your garage band. It’s easy to ask your employees to do the same things you’re doing.
So in the middle of all of this, it’s important to remember something we all know but that Henry Ford said well: “Business is not the reason why the United States was founded. The Declaration of Independence is not a business charter, nor is the Constitution of the United States a commercial schedule. The United States—its land, people, government, and business—are but methods by which the life of the people is made worth while.”
So how can your business make the life of the people it serves worthwhile?