The difference between timeless and priceless. Building a business that will stand the test of time.
As an Advisor/Mentor to early stage start-ups and incubators, I have the privilege of seeing some pretty cool things and some amazing ideas. I was asked recently, is there one thing that leads you to believe one company will be more successful than others over the long term (Timeless versus Priceless)? I’ve often had trouble articulating what that is and how I determined it. But, after reading Start with Why, by Simon Sinek, I’m now able to articulate what’s been simmering in my gut.
Priceless Can Be Copied
Many products are priceless. They’re cool. They solve a problem. They’re better than their predecessors. The thing is, if they are those things, make their mark and make money, they’ll be copied. The people doing the copying may just have more money and be better resourced. Competition can be hard and is not for the faint of heart. How will the company adapt? If its priceless product doesn’t take off, will it continue on or “call it a day?” So what takes a company from being priceless, a 1-hit wonder, to being timeless—able to sustain for the long haul?
The One Thing to Go From Priceless to Timeless
Timeless organizations have a mission and vision that makes them wake up with passion and verve. They have a cause, a purpose that is far greater than any one product or idea that they’ve developed. Sometimes, as Simon points out, it is simply to do something like challenging the status quo (Apple). For others, it’s a solution to a problem they have in their lives that can make other’s lives better—always one of the best sources of inspiration! For the rare few, it’s a truly altruistic desire to serve their communities and the planet. But for all of them, they can tell you why they're doing what they’re doing and it’s about more than just making a buck or creating something cool.
It Creates Competitive Advantage
It is passion, the Why, Purpose, the underlying reason for being, that keeps them going during the inevitable challenges that come with starting a business. It allows them to pivot and see things differently when they need to, because what they offer is far less important than what cause they’re looking to champion. It is this constant striving, based on purpose/cause/mission, that I believe separates the timeless from the priceless. Both are needed and both can catalyze tremendous change in our world. Some will just see their impact last longer than others.
The voice and stories from this blog originate from the collective wisdom and experiences not just of our team, but with those we were fortunate to learn from.