What Are the Differences between Business Suicide, Business Homicide, and Business Genocide?
What Are the Differences between Business Suicide, Business Homicide, and Business Genocide?
by Dr. Anthony M. Criniti IV (aka “Dr. Finance™”)
Understanding three unique business terms are required to interpret recent economic and financial events.
Staring at the dirty window of one of my favorite restaurants, my mood matched the rainy weather outside. The note on the inside of the glass said “Closed for Covid-19. We will reopen soon.” The note itself was not as disturbing as the date on it: March 16, 2020 — about seven months ago. Since the current regulations in my city have allowed a maximum 50% indoor seating capacity now (up from 25% a few weeks ago), customers would have expected that a business with such a long history in the community would be ready to start up the revenue machine again. Many people thought this restaurant would be the perfect example of a restaurant that can survive and thrive in all climates. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it was going to open anytime soon…most likely never. This reminds me of the financial lesson found in Principle 68 from The Most Important Lessons in Economics and Finance book: “There is no such thing as a permanent Caesar” (Criniti (aka “Dr. Finance™”), 2014, p. 100). Yes, even giants can fail.
Grieving the Passing of Loved Businesses
The death of the restaurant noted above in pre-Covid-19 times would have been historic in its own right. However, during the Great Pandemic Depression, it is just another casualty added to the list. The loyal customers to businesses like this one are left with an empty feeling — similar to when someone close passes away. Many people have strong memories to their favorite businesses, so a big void is created when they die.
All of these seemingly daily occurrences have led me to reflect more on the life of a business. Unlike when people die, the causes of business deaths are not required to be determined by a medical examiner/ coroner and placed on a death certificate. The manner of how the business died is also not required, which typically includes natural, accident, suicide, homicide, undetermined, and pending.
But the void left to so many customers, similar to the death of a loved one, forces loyal patrons to want more answers. Why did our favorite businesses die? Was the manner of death considered a business suicide or was it a business homicide? Perhaps, was it even business genocide? Many of the recent events that have led to the graveyard of so many beloved businesses have forced us to confront these challenging questions.
Understanding the Concepts of Suicide, Homicide, and Genocide
In order to understand the new financial concepts of business suicide, business homicide, and business genocide better, let’s first start with a quick analysis of these terms from an individual perspective. Although there are all different sorts of definitions and interpretations of them from a legal perspective, we will only focus on the subject from a universal standpoint. Generally speaking, suicide can be defined as the act of killing oneself. On the other hand, the definition of homicide can be the act of killing someone else. From the perspective of who is getting killed, these terms are polar opposites.
There is another way to view the topics of suicide and homicide though. In my book The Survival of the Richest, suicide was mentioned as the opposite of survival. To understand this, let’s look at how survival was defined. “Survival is the management of the present struggle to stay alive for a living entity. Survivalism is the science of survival” (Criniti, 2016, p. 13). Suicide can be viewed as the management of the present struggle to die for a living entity. Suicidalism is the science of suicide. Survival has to do with the intent to stay alive while suicide has to do with the intent of dying.
Although these new definitions of survival and suicide are opposites based on intended goals, they are similar because they have to do with an individual making a personal decision of whether or not he or she wants to live or die. Homicide is different in this respect because it has to do with an individual making a decision of whether or not he or she wants someone else to live or die. From this perspective, we can also define homicide as the management of the present struggle to kill another living entity. There are also different ways to describe homicide as used in legal criminal cases today, which all revolve around the idea of intent. For example, if there was intent to deliberately and unlawfully kill someone, it could be classified as murder.
Finally, we can add genocide to this discussion. Genocide follows the same path of homicide except on a massive scale. Generally speaking, the definition of genocide can be the act of killing a group of people (usually a large group). However, the term genocide is actually a very sensitive word that has very precise definitions by very important international organizations such as the United Nations. Their definitions are so important that it could determine whether or not certain events would call for international protection. Hence, the definition of genocide could be the difference between life and death for the abused citizens of a nation.
We will keep it simple and define genocide in similar form as the new definitions of suicide and homicide above. That is, we can also define genocide as the management of the present struggle to kill a group of living entities. Simply, it is one entity’s attempt to completely eliminate a group. In The Survival of the Richest, a list was provided of the major examples of genocide in history, particularly after the twentieth century. If you are interested in this subject, I caution you to brace yourself as it was one of the most disturbing parts of my research for that science book.
Understanding the New Financial Concepts of Business Suicide, Business Homicide, and Business Genocide
Although the terms suicide, homicide, and genocide are generally understood and certainly well researched subjects, they have rarely (and in some cases, never) been applied to businesses, especially businesses created by entrepreneurs. However, modern times call for modern terms. With all of the recent devastating events occurring in our entrepreneurial community worldwide, especially the Financial Coronavirus, it is time for a new reflection on the subject.
First, we will start our definitions from the traditional perspective. Generally speaking, business suicide can be defined as the act of killing one’s business. On the other hand, business homicide can be defined as the act of killing someone else’s business. Third, business genocide can be defined as the act of killing a group of businesses (usually a very large group). From the perspective of who is getting killed, business suicide is the polar opposite of business homicide and business genocide. For the former, the killing is being done to one’s own business. For the latter, the killing is being done to another entity, regardless of whether it is one business or a large group of businesses.
Let’s now take a look at the three terms from the alternative perspective mentioned before for individual suicide, homicide, and genocide. In this case, the original definitions can still be used. However, to make them more specific to businesses, they have to be slightly modified. First, business suicide can be viewed as the management of the present struggle to die for a living business entity. Second, business homicide can be defined as the management of the present struggle to kill another living business entity. Third, business genocide can be defined as the management of the present struggle to kill a group of living business entities.
Some Examples of Business Suicide, Business Homicide, and Business Genocide
Armed with new definitions for these unique, yet extremely important and relevant terms, let’s take a look at several examples. First, here is an example of a hypothetical business owned by a restaurant entrepreneur (also called a restaurateur) in New York City. The owner, John, decided that he did not want to be in the restaurant business anymore. Although he made decent money, he was tired of the grind and just wanted to do something different with his life. John did not want to sell his business either; he only wanted to close its doors permanently. In this example, John was committing business suicide as he decided to end the life of his business. His customers might have disagreed with his decision (and were probably very angry too), but it was his right as the owner to decide whether or not his business should live or die.
We will now take a look at two examples of business homicide. First, we can start with an example of a hostile takeover. The character Gordon Gekko from the famous investment banking movie Wall Street became a financially successful entrepreneur using this strategy. Let’s pretend an entity bought the majority of shares of a company with the intentions of stripping the assets. In this case, the inferior company would then be dissolved and die while the other superior entity would take the profits from the stripped assets and live on (and probably prosper). The stronger company committed business homicide because it killed the other company; it can also be argued that this could be classified as a business murder depending on the original intention.
This hypothetical hostile takeover is more of a direct example of a business homicide. However, the following is an indirect example. Let’s pretend that a hypermarket just opened in the middle of a small neighborhood. It sells the same things as a tiny close-by competing grocery store. However, the hypermarket is superefficient, supercheap, and has superior products. Everything that the grocery store can do, the hypermarket can do it exponentially better. The severe competition eventually crushes the tiny business and forces them to close down. This example can demonstrate multiple forces at work in the death of an entrepreneurial business. It is safe to say that the grocery store owner probably committed business suicide as he or she realized that the business is unprofitable. However, a strong argument can be made that the hypermarket’s success was also due to it indirectly killing off its weaker competitor. If the hypermarket never opened, the grocery store would probably still be surviving.
Finally, let’s take a look at an example of business genocide. Suppose there was a hypothetical country called Grinchland that did not want any more toys to be sold. The first thing that its government did was to begin the process of elimination of any businesses connected with toys in any way. That is, it immediately became illegal to make toys, to sell toys, or any of the infinite services that were needed in between. Since toy related businesses could not earn any income, the survival clock until their death was accelerated. Without any revenues, these businesses could be considered the walking dead.
Most toy businesses in the country did not have an emergency fund to last them beyond sixty days. If the government didn’t intervene, maybe to help them transition to another business or provide them some form of assistance, these businesses, and probably their owners, would soon run out of survival essentials. This would usually occur within about thirty days or less. For more information about this topic, please see the article called “How Long Can Entrepreneurial Businesses Stay Alive Without Survival Essentials?.”
The impact was severe even for the very few businesses that had a large emergency fund and a positive net worth. They had to liquidate all of their assets and distribute them to the owners. Since it was an emergency liquidation, most assets were sold at extremely reduced prices (for example, 70% off). In the end, effectively direct business genocide was committed by the powers to be in the country of Grinchland — no toys were made, all toy businesses were killed off, and there was plenty of unemployment.
Is Business Genocide Happening Now?
Similarly, many could argue that what has occurred in many places of the world during the Great Pandemic Depression could be considered at minimum an indirect form of business genocide. Since so many businesses were forced to close for a prolonged period of time (several months in some cases), they were essentially suffocated. This might not have been the intention, but for many, it was certainly the effect.
Even at the time of this writing, there are still businesses that are not allowed to operate with higher than a maximum 50% indoor occupancy rate, for example, in the restaurant industry. If the business owners are not strong enough to hold on any longer, these restrictions will soon kill off the second wave of business survivors (the first wave was mostly killed off in the first several months). For the most part, it is the intervention of government funding that has allowed so many of those survivors to hold on (a process that I call “survival by a third party”). However, the fighting entrepreneur’s grip is getting weaker and weaker, which is demonstrated by the daily examples of dead businesses popping up everywhere.
Business Genocide Can Become an Economic Genocide
In conclusion, our current economic climate has forced us to step back and learn more about the new financial concepts of business suicide, business homicide, and business genocide. We have covered various definitions and examples of each. When applied to people, suicide, homicide, and genocide are often considered unethical and illegal. Yet in a free capitalistic society, these concepts are mostly tolerable when applied to businesses. In the spirit of free competition, people are generally free to choose to open or close their business and compete (and possibly kill) another business — as long as it is done legally. However, when it comes to business genocide, there has been very little reflection on the subject until recently. Is it ethical? Should it be illegal? These are all good questions that it is time for our society to think deeper about.
What has been done is done already…there is a giant graveyard of businesses everywhere caused from the Financial Coronavirus. These were businesses that were functioning normally until they were not allowed to function at all. We can’t live without food for several months; and the weaker businesses that died off couldn’t live without revenue for that long either. The owners are now mostly unemployed, and hopefully, for their own sake, found another way to pay bills. No money, no life…for people and for businesses. The Survival of the Richest was always and still is true — however, its meaning is especially seen more clearly in difficult times like these.
One major lesson that recent events should have taught us: we should highly respect the life cycles of an entrepreneur and her or his business. When businesses are forced to close and heavy restrictions are imposed on them, they could die very quickly — and indirectly, this could kill their owners too. The world is just beginning to realize the necessity of economics and finance. While the highlight of the pandemic has been on the medical effects of the coronavirus, the sciences of wealth management were dismissed as less important subjects. Arguably, business genocide has been indirectly allowed to happen because the strong connection between economics, finance, and survival was not properly understood.
To correct our current problem, it first must be agreed that business genocide can become an economic genocide. If a nation’s businesses are destroyed, the next step is an economic collapse because entrepreneurs and their attached companies are the prosperous foundations to a strong nation. For our sake, it must be a priority to immediately help businesses get back on track completely — of course, while also ensuring it is done as safely as possible. No businesses can quickly equal no country.
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