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Last Update: Sunday December 17, 2017

Key Idea: Work Long Hours

The dry cleaning business is hard. All retail requires that the doors be open to serve customers and we think a retail service business is even more complicated than selling products. The challenge, the joy of serving people and the thrill of the chase are what drive owners to work long, hard hours. As one owner told us, running a business in not for wimps and we learn from Michael Novak that capitalism depends upon people who work hard.   Homepage

Key Question:

A: 

You can't avoid long hours especially at the beginning.

Stanford Professor James Collins, in his study of businesses that had been successful over a long period of time, found that they all had what he called a "core ideology," combined of core values and a core purpose. This is equally true of successful small businesses where we have a code, a "this is how we do business here" message for our employees, our customers and our vendors. Within our businesses, we demand truth and honesty of ourselves and of each other.

Our moral capital extends beyond our own businesses and business partners to the community at large. Whether it's sponsoring a baseball team, getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce, or donating to our favorite charity, our moral capital is expended broadly. We give back to the community from which we draw our livelihood.

Q: How does our moral capital evidence itself in our businesses?

A: Stanford Professor James Collins, in his study of businesses that had been successful over a long period of time, found that they all had what he called a "core ideology," combined of core values and a core purpose. This is equally true of successful small businesses where we have a code, a "this is how we do business here" message for our employees, our customers and our vendors. Within our businesses, we demand truth and honesty of ourselves and of each other. Our moral capital extends beyond our own businesses and business partners to the community at large. Whether it's sponsoring a baseball team, getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce, or donating to our favorite charity, our moral capital is expended broadly. We give back to the community from which we draw our livelihood.

Think about it

What do you do to give back to your community?  Do you encourage your employees to give back, too? Do you support their community service?

Clip from: Capitalism: Path to Prosperity

Washington, DC:   What are the essential foundations of life, liberty, freedom, and human rights?   The USA as a working experiment is a good model to study.  Here we can study the earliest documents and concepts and see how these also became the foundations for American capitalism.  Within this structure, we can see how just about any family can get on a path to economic independence.

Meet Michael Novak, a man whose life study is of the foundations of government systems that work. And here he discovered small business has the heart and spirit that sustains and nurtures democratic capitalism.   Michael Novak strikes deep into the heart of public debate about what works and what doesn't work within economic systems, and he says that small business owners are demonstrators. They're on the front lines, risking and fighting the good fight every day. Small business owners take lofty principles and reduce them to nitty-gritty practice.

As a people, the debate about capitalism should no longer be the domain of economists. We all need to grapple with the first principles of ethics, economics, and government. Virtually overnight globalization is a reality and belief systems are butting against one another, often shredding civility and undermining any inherent ethics and morality.

Each of us needs to engage in the historic debate about economic models. What works? What is good for people? Is this singular focus on "Return to Shareholders" a truncation of capitalism? Do we need to be looking at a more balanced model that includes more than the growth of the bottom line?

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American Enterprise Institute

Michael Novak, Author

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
202 862 5800

Visit our web site: http://aei.org

Office: 202 862 5800

Business Classification:
Education

Year Founded: 1947

Work Long Hours

HATTIE: What is moral capital?

MICHAEL: Moral capital is that fund of habits that has settled dispositions people, tendencies of people, capacities of people to work hard, work honestly, to be inventive, to be entrepreneurial, to be willing to take risks. That fund of habits is a kind of capital that economists didn't notice for a long time.

(Voiceover) They call it human capital. How much is it worth in strict economic terms to the Japanese that they have such good families who teach such good discipline and such good habits of learning, and such good habits of high quality work and a willingness to work long and hard.

It's worth a lot. Japan has almost no resources, but it's a rich country. It's rich mostly because of human capital, not material. Brazil may be the richest country on earth for resources, natural resources. It's got probably more of everything than anywhere else on earth. But it's a relatively undeveloped country. More than half the people have a third grade education or less. And so -- so economists know that moral habits are a form of wealth. They have many other good things, but they are also even -- they even have an economic reality, and they're a form of democracy because without certain habits you can't make the law work. If people don't tell the truth, if they lie and cheat, you can't trust the courts.

HATTIE: Right.

MICHAEL: Both democracy and capitalism depend on more -- I say the free society has three legs to it, three parts to it.

There's a political part of law and rights.

There's an economic part of freeing people from poverty, growth and development.

And there's a moral and cultural part which is the habits, of knowing the point of the whole thing. Treating one another as brother, sister, as community. And working for justice and truth and liberty and love and so forth. And, all those three parts have to be developed. If any one weakens, the other two also weaken.

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