Responsibility Starts at the Top
Several years ago, I attended a press luncheon given by a large, publicly held company that provided print services. By chance I was seated next to the company's CEO, who spent half of the lunch bemoaning the fact that he had to impress a bunch of analysts with his leadership skills. His reason for complaining was that the analysts had never managed a company and weren't capable of running one, so who were they to hold him accountable?
As it turned out, the company wasn't doing very well at the time and the CEO was dumped several weeks later. What that CEO didn't seem to understand was the concept of responsibility. He personally was responsible to his customers, to his employees and, in this case, to his shareholders for the welfare of his company. When he failed, he was replaced.
Like many a publicly held company executive, that CEO had a nice package to cushion his fall. He's probably still living quite well in retirement, cursing the analysts who gave him a bad rating. Entrepreneurs don't get off so easily.
Most distributors are privately held companies and are not judged by market analysts. They are, however, judged directly by market forces. They don't have access to stock offerings or venture capital to give them time to recover from a down market, bidding a job too low or bad debt.
A distributor is personally responsible to his customers, his employees and his family. When that CEO made bad decisions, profits suffered, but the company eventually recovered under his successor. Customers remained serviced. Although there were some layoffs, most employees kept their jobs. And, the CEO's family probably maintained its lifestyle quite nicely.
When a distributor fails, customers are hurt, employees are laid off and the distributor's family usually faces a difficult adjustment. The rewards can be high for those who take the risk of becoming entrepreneurs, but the responsibility can weigh very heavily.