Okay, this is a bit of a rant, but here goes…

I was reading this article this morning, and one sentence stood out: “Peter Drucker once said that ‘the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.'”

The purpose of a business is to *create* a customer. As in actively bring to life something that didn’t exist before.

That just stuck in my craw (excuse my southern-ese). How many vendors and startups do we see today that don’t actively CREATE their customer? How often are we told that startups should be “scratching an itch” – with the implication being that it’s a pre-existing itch? How many businesses now view ad words campaigns as their primary marketing engine? How many software companies seek to enter “big markets” once they’ve already been somewhat defined?

In short: how much of the marketing and sales in our technology world is just passive in nature?

Contrast that with Drucker: “the purpose of a business is to create a customer.”

Now let’s go back and look at game changing companies: did Microsoft enter a pre-existing “big market” with personal computers? Was Google entering some huge market known as “search-related ads” when Sergey and Larry created the algorithm? Did Larry Ellison (in the early days of Oracle) depend on waiting around for the leads to come in?

I can’t think of a single case of startup, entrepreneurial or really big business success that was passive in nature. Innovators don’t just scratch a pre-existing itch. They teach people they have an itch that they didn’t even know they had. I never knew I’d become borderline addicted to spewing minutiae in 140 character blocks — until I was shown that I wanted/needed it.

If you’re in the vendor community and you think that passivity is gonna cut it — I’m sorry, you’re just flat out wrong. Sure, you might build a nice, sustainable business (and if that’s all you want, that’s totally cool), but this idea that some how e2.0 and social business is a game changer — well, that ain’t happening in passive mode.

The purpose of business (first) is to create a customer.