As a business owner, you can play the short-term game or the long-term game.
Say you’re going to be in business for 25 years. You can play 25 short-term games or 1 long-term game that builds for 25 years.
They’re polar opposites.
At the end of a short-term game, you start over. Whether it’s a month, a quarter, or a year, and whether you hit or miss your goal, you start over from roughly the same place doing roughly the same things.
The long-term game has phases, but each phase elevates the baseline for doing business. It compounds, and it scales.
At the end of 25 short-term games, you have whatever you’ve saved. At the end of 1 long-term game, you have whatever you’ve built.
Short-term games are fueled by tactical effort. Long-term games are fueled by a strategic vision and continuous improvement.
Short-term games focus on increasing sales, revenue, and headcount. Long-term games focus on increasing profits, reinvestment, capabilities, and quality.
Short-term games are obsessed with one-upping the competition. Long-term games are obsessed with obsessing over customer feedback and one-upping yourself.
Short-term games are super-busy with whatever pops up, always putting out fires and getting things done halfway. Long-term games do fewer things, focus on them relentlessly, do them very well, and do them on purpose.
Short-term games are obsessed with getting something. Long-term games are obsessed with giving something and becoming something.
Short-term games are about money, processes, ego, and hustle. Long-term games are about people and impact.
Short-term games have price as a primary competitive lever. Long-term games prefer to sell on value.
Short-term games obsess over minimizing costs. Long-term games focus on leveraging assets.
Short-term games think all revenue is identical. Long-term games know a good dollar from a bad one.
Short-term games are terrified of economic downturns. Long-term games anticipate change and optimize for all phases of multi-year economic cycles.
Short-term games use people and love things. Long-term games love people and use things.
Short-term games require supervision. Long-term games require leadership.
Short-term games require optimizing the environment. Long-term games require optimizing oneself.
Are you playing a short-term game? Do you want to start playing a long-term game? If so, here are some suggestions:
- Stop being proud of being “busy.”
- Get your physical and mental health under control.
- Think hard about where you’re trying to go.
- Develop a short list of 2-3 “must-wins.” Then create a list of things you’ll say “no” to so that you can achieve your must-wins.
- Make developing and inspiring your people your number 1 priority.
- Talk to your customers continuously.
- Prioritize activities that grow your net profit margin.
- Reinvest your profits into developing hypotheses and running experiments to drive growth.
- Schedule some time with your group and me.