We seem to be living in an entrepreneurial world obsessed with speed. We celebrate the companies that are first to market, the entrepreneurs who are first to cash out with a huge payday and companies that go public without ever turning a profit.
A great counterbalance to this prevailing impatience is longevity. The act of building a durable and long-lasting company should never go out of style no matter what business trends come and go. It is one of the ultimate tests of true success in the business world.
But often, this gets lost in the allure of the flashiest new business idea that could come and go in a matter of months — which is odd because many of the business success stories we hold up as the gold standard of entrepreneurial achievement are examples of longevity in business. Warren Buffett’s patience and belief in the power of compounding turned him into one of the world’s richest men — but only later in life. Jeff Bezos was an enigmatic online bookseller until many years into his career when the world finally found out the breadth and genius of his ambitions. Finance giants like Ray Dalio and Jack Bogle refined and stayed true to their vision over decades, making landmark achievements and lasting legacies in their.
One of the commonalities in all these stories is the allure of entrepreneurship not just as a moneymaking endeavor, but as a true passion for the problem-solving and transformational potential of work.
Like life, entrepreneurship is about the journey, not just the destination. Cashing out early in the journey robs an entrepreneur of some of the richest experiences and lessons in business life.
Imagine if Jeff Bezos had sold Amazon when it was worth a few million dollars and spent the rest of his life sitting on a beach, or if Warren Buffett had offloaded Berkshire Hathaway decades ago and spent the rest of his life in retirement. It would be like a runner sprinting out to a lead in the first couple miles of a marathon and then stopping and claiming victory. The experience would not even be close to the same.
The richness of the entrepreneurial life is in the challenges, obstacles, joys and successes of a lifetime of dedication to not only a business endeavor, but the co-workers, clients, partners and competitors that make up a life in business.
You can’t learn these lessons sitting on a beach with a cocktail in hand after a few years of hard work. You earn those rewards through a lifetime of dedication to entrepreneurship through thick and thin.
Our economy and our business community have many of these lifelong entrepreneurs. We even have dedicated multigenerational business families. These are the examples of business success we should celebrate: the ones who play the long game, and build businesses that last — and in return receive the unrivaled experiences that only a life committed to entrepreneurship can deliver.
John Solari is the managing partner of J.A. Solari & Partners. He has 25 years of accounting experience and is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants.