The Secret To Building a Successful and Lasting Business

This might be the most useful post you read all year

Joe Procopio

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“How useful is what I do?”

It’s a question that is so simple on paper, yet so freaking difficult to answer in real life.

The usefulness of your product or service is a metric that’s difficult to quantify. As a result, a lot of entrepreneurs and business leaders don’t bother trying to measure it at all. Instead, they’ll substitute a backward looking statistic like revenue, or worse, they’ll rely on vanity metrics that don’t mean anything.

Then they’ll find that revenue can suddenly evaporate one day with no explanation. Or they’ll use false positives as justification for poor decisions on spend. Either way the money goes net negative real quick.

Let me assure you that in over 20 years building and growing companies, I’ve learned that there is no single answer to any other question that’s going to more accurately predict the success of your business.

So how do you answer it?

The Question Is Really About Your Business Mission

Last week, I talked about mission startups versus machine startups. This is my own terminology, but basically a machine startup is one that builds or buys growth around a product, usually by raising money from outside investors. A mission startup follows a more organic path, and grows step-by-step from a solution, slowly built into an ever-improving product, and delivered to an ever-expanding market.

While mission startups and machine startups are two completely different beasts, all startups — even machine startups with shedloads of money — should be built around a single, unwavering mission. It’s the reason their solution exists, and therefore also their product and their company.

While a machine startup requires venture investment to survive, its product doesn’t have to be very useful out of the gate. In fact, a machine startup doesn’t even require a working product in the beginning, just the funding to design and build a grand machine that will eat a large portion of a market, including all its competition.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com