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Independence: Good for Business ...& Country

This July 4 is a perfect time to reflect on independence. What does it mean to your business? And what does it mean to this country?
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As the nation is enjoying the frivolity of fireworks, barbeques and the company of friends and family, I hope we all take some time to reflect on the essence of July 4: Independence. It's a time to look at where our nation has been, where we came from and to apply those principles to our present and future.

There was a reason that grossly outnumbered and under-equipped colonists staged a revolution. It is the same reason that so many Americans have fought and died in the 300-plus years since that first war for independence. It's our independence of thought and mind that allows America to remain the innovative powerhouse it's been for decades.

In business, independence isn't easy. All companies are beholden to market fluctuations, customer demands and vendor abilities. While we're dependent on certain forces beyond our control, there are areas that companies can control--who we do business with, what our customer expectations are and how we grow.

At OtterBox, we're proudly independent of external decision-making powers because we are a family-owned company that is self-financed. Because of this freedom, we're able to offer our employees a monthly profit sharing-type bonus, additional paid time off for volunteer hours and other benefits that often are placed on the chopping block at businesses that must answer to shareholders or other debt financiers. OtterBox isn't required to offer these perks, but because we are free to offer them, we do. It's good business.

As a nation, we've almost done a 360-degree turn since the American Revolution. Taxes, litigation and debt have taken away the nation's independence. Our citizens and certain businesses and industries are dependent on a very convoluted government system.

It's a broken system that needs fixing. A business that operates on a broken system goes out of business. Until recently, it was hard to imagine a government going out of business, but Greece and Spain are painting vivid pictures of what that can look like.

Being an election year, voters are about to get their fill of politicians and politics. Business owners, entrepreneurs, employers and employees should be thinking about whether or not we are independent, and if not how we can get there.

Last updated: Jun 29, 2012

CURT RICHARDSON | Columnist | Founder and CEO of OtterBox

OtterBox founder and CEO Curt Richardson created the first prototype of a waterproof case in his garage in the early '90s. OtterBox evolved into a leader in protective cases for mobile technology.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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