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BREAKING BUSINESS DOWN: Understanding the ‘B’ word

According to 2016 research, there were almost 30,000 small businesses registered in Nova Scotia.
According to 2016 research, there were almost 30,000 small businesses registered in Nova Scotia. - 123RF Stock Photo

Business is all around us, but what does it mean?

By Liam Taylor

When someone mentions that they ‘own a business,’ or ‘have a business,’ what image does that conjure up in your mind? 

When most people think of a business, the image that appears is often of individuals in smart suits with briefcases; ‘The Dragons’ from CBC’s Dragon’s Den, Gordon Gecko from Wall Street or someone with the loud tie yelling into his or her smartphone, may come to mind. However, the reality is that the stereotyped multi-millionaire businessperson described above is very much a minority. In Nova Scotia, according to Key Small Business Statistics, in 2016, there were almost 30,000 small businesses (one to 99 employees) who employed 75 per cent of all individuals working in Nova Scotia, I can guarantee the owners don’t all wear $1,000 suits! 

But what is a business? The dictionary definition is: ‘An organization where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money.’ A little bit simplistic? Maybe. But correct? Certainly.

The elements within business can be as complex or as simple as the individual running it, and although some people say: “Oh, I haven’t the head for business!” The truth is that everyone has a head, and there is an element of business acumen in everyone; be it customer service, marketing, finance, operations, design or sales.

How often have you said: “Oh, we can’t afford a new car, or new phone.” In reality, you have weighed the financial impact of buying an item that may influence your life in some way. This is the same way a business evaluates the investment in an asset that will potentially benefit the company, either by saving money, making operations more efficient or creating a product.

Let’s take the purchase of a new or secondhand car for instance. This can be considered by one person to be a vehicle for getting from A to B, a lifestyle statement by another and an investment by another. Ultimately, all the reasons for investing in a vehicle can be allocated to a division. The person who buys a car purely to get from A to B, is investing in a fixed asset that has no marketing or sales value, yet is operationally functional and may be the only efficient way to get to where he or she needs to go.

The individual who buys it to look good, is a marketer. The individual who buys an antique car as an asset that will appreciate in value, is an investor. The individual who buys a car purely for the fun of it, well, they’re probably one of the Dragon’s and don’t worry too much about money anyway.

Which one you are is up to you!

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