Says Jim Collins (author of “Built to Last” and “Good to Great” — 2 excellent books) in an interview in Fortune Small Business, elaborating on his belief that a guiding principle is more important to a business’ longevity than a great idea or a charismatic leader:
It’s a set of values and ideas that are deeply held. It’s not what we should value — it’s what we do value, down to our toes. Marriott started with an AW root beer stand, morphed into restaurants, then into hotels, resorts, food service, and catering. What the company did over time changed. But the basic idea always was to help people away from home feel that they are among friends and wanted. Disney’s idea is, We’re here to put a smile on a kid’s face and bring happiness to people.
Any business that exists only to make money is not enough. This is a critical question that you have to answer: What would be lost if this company ceased to exist? If the answer is, ‘We’d have less money or our kids would be out of a job,’ then you don’t have a company with a guiding principle.