We cannot expect businessmen to operate out of benevolence but we also cannot expect goodwill from customers

By | CYH

Adam Smith was spot on to observe that people do not start businesses out of altruism. They start out of their self-interest. But this is what made capitalism work because trade and transactions could happen – the businessman provides value to the customer in exchange for tangible monetary payment.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.

from Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith)

But the reverse is true too. It would be naive for businessmen to expect customers to patronise just because they have something to sell. Customers act on their own interests too. Products and services must provide value and solve customers’ problems.

Rewording Adam Smith,

It is not from the benevolence of the customers that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.