Customers aren’t born. They’re created.

I was reading about corporate profit margins and tax cuts today when I came upon this misguided idea in a comment:

What business, and “trickle down” economists, have not yet realized is that business does not create jobs.

If you have ever owned a business you know that you don’t go out and hire people just because you have money in the bank. You hire people because you have work that needs to be done and the money to pay people to do it.

You have work that needs to be done because you have customers.

Customers create jobs.

Nope. Nobody is born wanting to be a customer. They don’t say one day “I’m going to go out to buy that thing I’ve never heard of before”. People only become customers when they attempt to satisfy a need that they have.

That need may be a physical one. Customers need to eat, so they buy food from grocery stores. It may be a psychological one. Women want to be seen as well accessorized, so they choose Prada handbags over a more utilitarian bag from Target.

Some companies fulfill an existing need, selling clothing or furniture. Some companies are adept at creating a need you didn’t know you had. Thirty years ago you didn’t need a mobile phone. Or a DVD. Ten years ago you didn’t need a tablet computer. (Ok, maybe you still don’t, but then you simply won’t buy one – you won’t be a customer.)

When you, the customer, realize that you have a need, and a product appears that fills that need, you will give the company your money in exchange for the product. As more customers satisfy their need with the product, the company will generally hire as many people as they require to create enough of the product to fulfill the needs of all of the customers.

The customer create anything here. The company created or recognized a need, created a product to fulfill the need, made potential customers aware of their need and the product they could satisfy it with, and then sold the product to willing customers.

The company created the customers. In the case of a product like the iPad, Apple created new customers out of thin air, because the day before the product existed there was essentially nobody with a need for the product. Apple created an entire market where none had existed before that. A hundred years earlier, Henry Ford similarly created a market for the mass produced automobile. Again, at no point did the customer create anything.

Customers aren’t born. They are created – by companies whose products fulfill a need that they have. Successfully fulfilling a need for a customer is what creates jobs.