It seems there used to be a certain ideal people had about doing business—maybe there were many ideals—but the one entrepreneurial imperative that always captures my imagination is the one that drove entrepreneurs serve their customers without cutting corners.
New small business owners are also on to something good, but the old-fashioned guys and gals from decades ago believed in building something to last. Now we’re all about building it fast, and as much of it as possible.
Of course there is a lot of money to be made and I won’t knock the hustle, but in the interest of old-school values, to the new wave of would-be tycoons I have to say: We can do better.
There was this term, “consumer durables” that was used in the field of economics to describe something that consumers only had to buy once and be able to use it for a very long time.
It’s a given that not every business could produce consumer durables, but there was an element of this in everything that was made, at one time.
Automobiles were made with thicker steel, clothes were crafted with lasting fabric—Levi’s practically built their philosophy around durability. Business owners just had the general feeling that their product shouldn’t be so quick to fall apart.
The Turn Towards Tech
At some point in the long line of the evolution of small businesses, tech companies carved out a big piece of the pie and eventually offered so much value and variety of services to consumers that you literally find them everywhere.
Obviously, I’m writing to draw your eye to our very own startup, which is why I am not against the advancement of technology, or even the onset of the tech takeover. The point is that small businesses, at large, have veered away from the practice of building products that you’ll keep around for a while.
This is not a plea for the return to a Golden Age.
What I hope to instill with this vague inspiration to make products and services like they did back in the 50s is the idea that small businesses do not have to succumb to the influence of our throwaway society.
This is probably insulting to some business owners because many of you are still making the good stuff, but there are also a lot of businesses who could learn something from those old-school values and start making product that is built to last.