Success? But at what cost?

What overall price was payed for the creation of that 'turnover, profit and cash' generated by a business?

Success? But at what cost?

How do you know that somebody has a general management degree? They'll most probably throw the line, 'Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king" - your way, whenever they get the slim chance to do so.

Quoting this saying, which BTW was originally apparently thought-up by Alan Miltz (who now lives in Australia, but graduated with a finance degree from UCT), makes people with management qualifications sound hellava smart, but the "Turnover is vanity, profit is yadda yadda yadda" -nursery rhyme is really just a very selective part of the whole business story that is worth considering.

What is a far more useful and holistic question to be asking and considering is; "What overall price was payed for the creation of that 'turnover, profit and cash' generated by a business?"

For example, if your business produced R1 million worth of profit in a year, but in the process you (1) lost your wife, (2) developed cancer from all of the stress and (3) you've been put onto heavy anti-anxiety medication as a result - then is your R1 million profit still a mark of success; or could you have ended up having a better year had you spent it floating on a pool noodle and drinking cocktails in your kidney-shaped pool in Edgemead?

To offer another example, the global economy measures its performance thanks to improving GDP figures (politicians love to claim credit for annually improving GDP numbers), but if this comes at the expense of the sustainable survival of the entire planet that we live on? Well then obviously the price paid for those GDP figures is too high.

To put it another way - that's a bit like keeping the house warm in winter by burning $100 bills in the fireplace - you're nice and toasty, but at the cost of your entire life savings. Put it this way and it looks laughable – which is exactly what it is.

That's the problem with using accounting frameworks to measure the success of a business; it's too much of a narrow metric to be accurate or useful, and what's perhaps worse, is that it can give you a false sense of accomplishment that rapidly evaporates when you realise that you success came at a massive non-accounting loss in other parts of your life.

Surely the most successful businesses are the ones that use the least amount of productivity to generate the most amount of profit?

And if you had to expand that even further to measure: (1) if there was an actual improvement in the overall personal mental and physical wellbeing of all stakeholders involved, as well as a (2) measurable benefit to the larger community in which the business operates as well as (3) the environment - surely that should be a better way to measure the success of a business?

Chasing 'turner, profit and cash' blindly without holistically considering the bigger, long-term picture is insane and all that usually ends up happening is that you create 'busy-ness' in your life, but not very much progress besides that.

That's why Warren Buffett publicly laughs at hedge fund managers, because in the long-term instead of investing your money with an 'active, expensive, fee-driven' hedge fund manager who drives a fast car and operates from an office with glass walls, you'll actually be better off financially simply by investing your money in a passive index-fund that tracks the market.

Just being 'busy with work' seems pretty pointless; rather just spend your time sitting in the pool and stop bothering with working.

Just because you made a profit doesn't mean that your time was actually spent in the most profitable way.