Yesterday I followed a conversation on The Brand Man on the drivers of business success. Micco posted an interview with Guy Kawasaki with the title Make Meaning to Your Company. Guy Kawasaki’s point was that you need a higher purpose and passion to be successful, just striving for money will not get you far. Successful companies make meaning and have strong visions about how to change the world as we see it.
I believe this is true and there are numerous examples of this. IKEA was founded on the vision “to create a better everyday life for the many people”, Apples purpose statement is "To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind". Both companies are fairly successful.
Thus, the main driver for successful entrepreneurs is certainly not the money, but the willingness to fundamentally change something in peoples’ lives. Money is just the byproduct of succeeding in this quest.
The second reflection I had when following this conversation was the focus on successful companies, businesses and entrepreneurs. I do not believe in successful companies or businesses, rather that success, apart from being driven by a strong visionary leadership, is driven by strategic moves. W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne has done years of research on this when formulating their brilliant Blue Ocean Strategy framework.
Apple is a good example of this as well. In the advent of micro computers, Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak realized that you needed to simplify the computers to make computing power accessible to people. The Apple I & II were born and the way we perceive computers completely changed. In the 90s Apple was on decline, partly due to lack of visionary leadership but mainly, in my opinion, due to lack of strategic moves. When Steven Jobs returned, so did visionary leadership and strategic moves. The first really important move was realizing how new technology could change the way we consume and share music – the iPod & iTunes, then the way we communicate - iPhone and recently the way we consume and share information - the iPad.
The evolvement of the internet give companies a unique possibility to spot opportunities for strategic moves through better insights into behavioral changes, application of new technology, how trends will affect the value brought to customers and impact the company business model etc. Companies with the ability to capture, process and draw conclusions from information & conversation in the online space will have better opportunities to capture new market space and be successful. It might be that it takes visionary leadership to make this happen, but the tools are at your disposal and the opportunity is there for every company to explore!