How to build a great company

In the early 2000’s Jim Collins wrote a seminal book on leadership – “Good to Great”. For quite a while it was required reading for everyone who wanted to build not merely a good but a great company.

And as much as the world might have moved on, the core message still stands:

What do you need to do?

There are three things you need to be considered a truly great company:

  • Number one, you have to deliver superior financial results.
  • Number two, you have to make a distinctive impact, to the point where if you didn’t exist you couldn’t be easily replaced.
  • Number three, the company must have lasting endurance, beyond multiple generations of technology, markets, and cycles, and it must demonstrate the ability to do this beyond a single leader.

The first point is pretty obvious. Google, Apple, Facebook are all raking in the money. As do many, many other companies.

The third point is something which takes time to prove out. None of the current crops of tech companies have really hit that point yet. Though, arguably, a bunch of companies have already proven that they have a hard time delivering on this promise (think Yahoo!).

The middle point is the one I would focus on. In my eyes it’s the most important aspect of building a great business:

Build something insanely great. That’s the (only) way you build a great business.

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