An article in Inc. Magazine recently talked about how you should build your company as if you were building it for the next 100 years – while, at the same time, also building it like you would be selling it tomorrow.
It is an interesting and valuable thought experiment: When you force yourself to think about the longterm (and most of us don’t do this nearly enough), you start making decisions differently. You build a strong foundation with a focus on longevity and become much more impervious to short-term fads. It is a technique used by all of the great empire-builders around the world – Larry Page & Sergey Brin build Google with a view for the long term; Mark Zuckerberg thinks about Facebook as something which will be around for decades, if not centuries; Jeff Bezos keeps reminding Amazon shareholders that he is building a company for the long haul and not next quarter.
At the same time it is essential to keep your head in the here and now – thus thinking about having your company ready for an exit tomorrow, will ensure you run your business according to the needs of the here and now.
As Zuck famously wrote: We know what we need to do in the next 3-6 months. We know what our long-term goal, vision and North Star is. Everything in-between we need to figure out.