I see that the Rolling Stones have plans to release a new studio album this year. They last released new material 11 years ago. Then again, since they’ve been making records for almost 55 years, it’s not as if there isn’t a lot of their music to which you can listen while you wait. I saw the Stones last year. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen them play, and I’ve seen them regularly since the 1970’s. They’re the epitome of what every business should be doing: focusing on today but doing so in the context of the long run.
Yes, I’m familiar with the famous Keynes quote that “in the long run, we are all dead.” Some people – economists and others – take it to mean that we should enjoy today and not worry too much about the future. In fact, he was arguing exactly the opposite (which is often what happens when quotes are taken out of context – another screed for another time). Clearly, one can look at Keith Richards‘ lifestyle and not see a great deal of concern about the long run. Don’t let the lifestyle confuse you. Keith and the other Stones began as a band the took older music – blues, mostly – and placed it into a new context, thereby carrying it forward (some might say stealing!). Their musical styles have always adjusted to the tastes of the time – they did disco (“Miss You“), they did country (“Wild Horses“, “Sweet Virginia“), they did many other types of music. All of it was designed to stay relevant and to keep the band – and the business – healthy for the long term. Think about how many bands had incredibly short life spans. Sometimes it was due to internal disagreement, but usually it was that the band wasn’t thinking long-term, refusing to change (and no band leaders fought more than Mick and Keith!).
So how about your business? I see quite a few founders who are thinking about ramping up and making a quick exit. The “long run” is next year. I’d rather be there for the long run like The Stones. You?