An executive ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for their study, than profit and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to the chief executive, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who inherit corporations, but it commonly enables people to rise from poverty to wealth.
And, on the contrary, it is seen that when executives have thought more of the comparatively trivial and simple tasks than of profit they lose their jobs, or their companies. And the first cause of loss is to neglect this art; while what enables you to maintain a company is to be master of the art. Many people, through becoming profitable, from garages came to create more wealth than many nations. After a generation, virtually all of these corporations were lost, through avoiding profit by following popular fashion, from simple lack of ability, or the bondage of the innovator’s dilemma.
For among other evils which being unprofitable brings you, it causes you to be ignored, and this is one of those ignominies against which an executive ought to guard themselves. Because there is nothing proportionate between the profitable and the unprofitable; and it is not reasonable that they who are profitable should negotiate on the terms of those who are unprofitable, or that the unprofitable should be equal and fair party to an agreement of the profitable. Because, there being in the one no confidence and the other no merit, it is not possible for them to find fair exchange and mutual benefit. And therefore an executive who does not understand the art of profit, over and above all other concerns, cannot be successful, cannot create wealth, and cannot provide prosperity. The executive ought never, therefore, to have out of their thoughts this subject of profit, and in a profitable quarter they should addict themselves more to its exercise.
This can be done in two ways, the one by innovation, the other by process improvement.
Here is the original text.
A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art. Francesco Sforza, through being martial, from a private person became Duke of Milan; and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and troubles of arms, from dukes became private persons. For among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies against which a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on. Because there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together. And therefore a prince who does not understand the art of war, over and above the other misfortunes already mentioned, cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them. He ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war; this he can do in two ways, the one by action, the other by study.Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter 14