This isn’t going to be a post about cash reserves to ensure long-term business success. A sustainable, long-term business depends far more on your mindset than it does on cash reserves.
There are some incredibly bad, yet short-term effective ways to sell someone a product. You can motivate by fear. You can say that buying your product will make them popular/cool/sexy. You can promise something that everyone wants, like happiness, but that you ultimately can’t deliver. You can flat out lie about your product and make a lot of money in the short-term. You can be a step above a con artist and make money. But money isn’t what you’re after right? You’re after a sustainable, healthy business.
Let’s compare some characteristics used to create long-term vs. short-term businesses. To some degree, every business has components of the short-term business characteristics below. However, it seems to me that the truly great, long-lasting (non-commodity) businesses have lasted because of the long-term characteristics that they’ve held.
- Copycatting another business
- Lacking flexibility
- Unwilling to change for the consumer
- Stagnancy, resting on laurels
- A commitment to preserving the past at the cost of adding value through innovation
- Designing the business to be 100% dependent on you
- Internally-motivated mission (Goal is to serve the owner by providing money, security, etc.)
- Fear and survival motivated
- Unique, original business concept
- Always being in beta
- Not being afraid to hire younger employees to grow with the business
- Flexible, especially to serve market demands
- Externally-motivated mission (Goal is to address a problem or need seen in the world)
- Care for others and world-improvement motivated
Creating a healthy, sustainable business is similar to creating a happy life. Choosing to be happy and doing all you can to pursue feeling good doesn’t actually work to create sustainable happiness. A happy life actually seems to depend on your ability to fully live. Exercising, relationships with loved ones and sleep all seem to impact happiness. It's a well-known paradox - to be happy, you can't try to be it or pursue things that feel good. Instead, you have to make decisions that create a healthy life. That’s how creating a healthy, sustainable business is. You simply decide to do that which is best for your business in the long-term instead of deciding to stress out and pursue gain in the short-term.
When you are worried about whether your business will survive, it’s very hard to make decisions based on an externally-motivated mission. But if you make a decision just to get through the day, that’s all you’ll get. If you make a decision that you know is best for your business in the long-term, you’ll be one step closer to a healthy, sustainable business.
I know it’s so incredibly hard to deny that part of us that is seeking to just survive. It is hard to deny the worried, scarcity mindset. But please, know this --
the health of your business in the long-term depends on your ability to refuse to make decisions out of fear or a scarcity mindset.
It’s a struggle. I’m right there with you in it. Every day. But it’s not impossible. I want the struggle, because I want the best business. I know you do too.