I spent the 2011 in London, I really beautiful place to live, actually, I think it’s the place to be if you’re young, with high expectations and a valid worker (in any category). After this fantastic year I came back to Switzerland, a place where young guys are just “youngs”.
I tried to start a very interesting and innovative project for doctors and I faced some people working in the regional finance, of course, you always have to face them, soon or later. I just spoke for 5 minutes and then my mouth was shut down by a simple, but clear sentence: “The goal is not to innovate, but it’s make money”.
Well, I disagree.
I can understand why people who use to work as manager, financial advisor, broker, etc… doesn’t like the word innovation, because in their mind means risky, what I cannot understand is why they have to point “make money” as main goal when setting up a business. “Make money” should not be the ultimate goal, but a consequence of what a company is doing.
Why ‘make money’ should not be the ultimate goal? Because it’ll attract the wrong kind of people, people with MBAs, with economics or financial degrees, managers of all kinds, etc… and who’s missing? The people who makes the difference. If you’re a project manager or a guy working in economic or financial world, forgive me for what I said, but it’s the ugly truth.
The financial side of a company is very important, of course, but when a new business is created the goal is to create value, making something (or creating a service) that people could love and use, something that generates value and, if you’re doing it right, profit. Depending how a product or a service is good, the profit could be high or low (even zero or generating debt, in worst scenario). It’s not simple, some very good companies failed and disappeared without traces, but if you’ve a good idea and a valuable project, what can happen could be unexpectable. Examples? I would like to start with Instagram, a very basic, but delightful, app/service for iOS. A place where people could share pictures about everything: pets, outlooks, buildings, cities, etc… and their main goal was: creating a delightful app and service to let people share pictures. That was the main goal! They’ve been recently acquired by Facebook for 1 billion dollars, by the way…
Another example? Instapaper, I’m quite sure Marco Arment didn’t start with the goal of purely profit, but the goal was to create “A simple tool to save web pages for reading later.”, result? Simply amazing.
Third and last example, Chomp: an app search and discovery platform recently acquired by Apple. They created a very useful website, not a simple tool to search in the app store, but something better, even better than iTunes, with a very well programmed logic and useful results.
The truth is that all these 3 services are still alive because they started with the main goal different to “make money”, but instead it was “to innovate” and make something different. If you’re starting a new business, write in sequence your goals and try to figure out if the first one is just “make money”, if yes, you’ll face an high risk of failure.