An uncomfortable question for business owners and shareholders

What are shareholders bringing? Money in exchange for ownership.

What are customers bringing? Money in exchange for a product or service.

What are employees bringing? Work to deliver the product and service to customers in exchange for money.

Mission/Value/Strategy statements all have similarities on how they refer to employees and customers, always along the line of “our people are our most important asset” and “customer success is the pulsing heart of the company”.

But, and it is a big but, the primary focus of businesses (since when?) is to increase the value for shareholders. Better services to customers by hard-working employees is one way to do it, but, when a company has cash, there are other ways which do not involve risky R&D, new products, failures, customers management and employees. For example, a company can buy back its shares. Buying lots of shares at the same time will artificially increase the value of all shares, and “voila”, no risk, easy to forecast on a spreadsheet and good for the executives’ wallets when bonuses are connected to share price.

What are shareholders bringing that make them the primary focus of a company?

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