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The other day I saw an ad on YouTube for a stock trading program.
In it were photos of the expert gallivanting around Dubai and living the dream life.
It reminded my of an old Charlie Munger video where he says:
If you take the modern world where people are trying to teach you how to come in and trade actively in stocks… Well I regard that as roughly equivalent to trying to induce a bunch of young people to start off on heroin.
It is really stupid when you're already rich to make your money by encouraging people to get rich by trading.
And then there are people on the tv. Another wonderful place. And they say, “I have this book that will teach you how to make 300% a year and all you have to do is pay for shipping and I will mail it to you.”
How likely is it that a person who suddenly found a way to make 300% a year would be trying to sell books on the internet to you?
Regardless of what market you’re in, this is what you’re competing against.
Heroin-style solutions that get their customers amped up and spending money, only to kill them in the long run.
But most markets have matured and people are moving away from these gurus. Especially now that a critical mass has been burned at one point or another.
But where are they moving to?
They are moving to companies with a mission, a reason for existing.
Let’s return to Munger’s question: Why would someone making 300% per year want to spend time teaching that to somebody else?
They could be promoting the online business MLM, whereby, I make 300% teaching you how to make 300% so you can teach other aspiring entrepreneurs to make 300%. The problem is that the only person who actually makes the money is the one at the top of the pyramid.
This model is driven by greed and envy. The guru is greedy and everybody else is envious. And there is no reason to exist other than to siphon money up the ladder.
But here’s another example: Email copywriting.
Many companies will pay freelance copywriters hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month to write emails for them.
Think about it: How many emails do you get each day? How many of them are any good?
The average American is on hundreds of email lists. And most of them are instantly deleted because they aren’t any good.
Nobody can service all these companies that need email.
But by teaching others to get email copywriting clients, they can (1) make money themselves and (2) help others to make money and solve a problem for their customers.
Email copywriting can be heroin. You can sell it without ever having done it. And fake it ‘till you make it.
But you can also do it with a mission.
And this is why I say that your mission matters.
In any industry, there will be many companies that claim to solve the same problem. Of those, the ones that have a legitimate reason for existing will be more trustworthy, get better results, and keep their customers longer.
This is the greatest opportunity (if you have a strong mission) because all of your sleazy competitors will push people straight to you. And you'll be ready and waiting with open arms.
TL;DR — Just like people, businesses that do heroin don’t last.
What is your mission? Why does your company exist?
Do your customers know this?