We’ve got used to thinking of investment as a purely financial thing, undertaken by shareholders in a company. A risk taken in the hope that the return will be worth it.
We’ve also got used to the idea that capital investors are the most important investors, and that returns to them should be kept high and constant, because otherwise they’ll take their capital elsewhere.
‘Investment’ carries another meaning though – to put on clothes, especially the ceremonial clothes of office. In other words to publicly adopt the roles and responsibilities associated with that office.
Looked at this way, there are certainly other investors in a business. The founders, workers, suppliers, and customers who take a risk with their time, energy and belief, in the hope that the return will be worth it. These (along with some personal capital investors to be sure), are the people who adopt the roles and responsibilities associated with it. Who clothe themselves in its values, purpose and ways of doing things. Who may even wear its uniform, badge, or logo publicly and with pride.
Money isn’t the only thing necessary for the long-term success of a venture. It certainly isn’t sufficient.
What if we focused our dividends accordingly?