Flipping the Company or Flipping Beliefs?

I heard two young spirited entrepreneurs, working their butts off creating a new and wonderful company, totally devoted to clients and to their technology—talking about how they were going to flip the company in a few years.

Is this entrepreneurship at its best, creating and then moving on to let others manage?  Or are these a couple of cynical short-termers?

I think it’s something deeper.

I think it’s a fundamental shift in how we see things—and in what we believe in.

What if this is the new mainstream?

It’s easy to caricature it as a selfish, short-term oriented, monetize-everything approach, to be contrasted with the social good of building a lasting organization.  By that view, it rhymes with abandonment of employees, looking for the fast buck rather than the ongoing value. And let’s thrown in skepticism about the loyalty and dedication of whatever employees are left after the original founders are left.

Passing judgment is generally what generation now-minus-two-or-three does when faced with change.  We condemn the moral decay the change represents.

But—what if “entrepreneurship” becomes the norm?

You’d end up not being able to flip companies for very much, because they wouldn’t last long.  But the people who worked in them after the flip wouldn’t be working very long there either, since they too aspire to flip—their own careers.

Is this a recipe for cynicism? Must it be incompatible with customer service?

Not necessarily—not if you love learning and building a business and helping customers. Which is what I heard going on.

Sometimes, it is our beliefs that drag us down, hold us back. The beliefs from a generation or two ago. What are they? Let’s take stock:

1. Employee retention is good, to be maximized. Not really—the goal is engagement. Retention was always a second-order indicator that’s now fraying.

2. Sustainable competitive advantage is the goal. Sustainable for a bit is all we need; welcome to disposable businesses.

3. Built to Last. No thanks, it only has to last long enough.

4. Boundarylessness. Yes—but not limited to within the corporate walls.

5. Loyalty.  Companies can’t be loyal, only people can. People who are loyal to companies are in one-sided relationships.

If we’re going to critique trust in new businesses, we need to be careful to distinguish the core elements of trust from the ways in which trust happened to be manifested in the past.