Not the book by Jim Collins. Although — it’s a great book and worth the read. No. The notion of building a company for the long haul is what I want to talk about. Building a company which lasts. Not your “nine days’ wonder” but something which endures the trials and tribulations of time.
There is a lot which goes into building a long lasting company. In the initial stages all startups are messy, chaotic and disorganized. As your organization grows up, you are faced with decisions all along the way. And you can choose to stay scrappy, wild and chaotic or you can build a full-fledged, well governed company. The former will eventually die as its structure is just not build for the test of time, the latter oftentimes becomes slow and bureaucratic.
Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel, once said: “Only the paranoid survive.” I believe that to be fundamentally true — in the beginning you are paranoid out of necessity. Once some success comes, some money flows — all too many companies lose their edge. And once you lost it, it’s incredibly hard to get back.
The art is to build the full-fledged, well governed company without losing your sense of urgency.