We Don't Need More Stuff, We Need More Value

Everyone and their grandmother today has a business idea. And that’s not a bad thing. Me? I’ve got more business ideas now than ever, it seems. In fact, I feel almost plagued by business ideas – it’s so hard to focus on one thing.

We don’t need more business ideas – what we need today is value ideas.

The Two Kinds of Value

Our lives are a gift, and our life’s work is to give to others. In business terms, we call that “adding value”. And me? After so many years of just taking and demanding from others, it finally hit me that this isn’t working. If I want to get anything significant done in my life, to really succeed, I need to give to others – to add value.

But here’s the thing: value differs from situation to situation.

It’s easy to look at value as solely being extrinsic – two parties look at a used sofa and agree on a price. It’s a deal. And that, my friends, is business.

But we know that value isn’t always extrinsic, it can also be intrinsic. Something that two parties agree upon that can’t be quantified in dollars and cents. Better education for our children, sustainable living, a moral code of conduct. These are all examples of intrinsic value.

It doesn’t much seem like a business idea when you’re pursuing intrinsic value, does it? That’s because it isn’t. Businesses make money. Charities, non-profit organizations, and communities focus on intrinsic value (or at least they should). That’s not to say that businesses can’t pursue intrinsic value as well. It’s just that if a business favors the intrinsic over the extrinsic, it ceases to be a viable business. (Try giving your employees free gym memberships when you fail to meet a product launch. Ouch.)

A Third Kind of Value

But there’s also a third scenario – when the value differs between the parties. This can only occur when one party gives freely to the other. Otherwise one of the parties will be getting a bad deal. This of course isn’t business, nor is it any other pursuit of intrinsic value. What is it? It’s art. And the value of art can differ between parties. If I expect someone to give me an amount comparable to the value of what I deem my art to be, it can add up to a hefty price tag. Art can be priceless, but that doesn’t mean someone needs to be charged accordingly.

So instead of pursuing more business ideas, let’s see where we can add value in other ways. Be it intrinsic value, or just giving to someone and letting them define the value. But we’re not shooting for the moon here, nor are we “spraying and praying”. This is exactly where we should apply the best business practices we know, and then keep learning more. Because business is about value. Why should we treat other types of value any different?

We need to pursue our value ideas ruthlessly, like running a stone-cold business. Anyone who has a value idea should learn about things like an MVP, the GTD Workflow, and the Pomodoro technique, to name a few. Learn, learn, and keep learning. Run your value business like a business business.