Wealth, Income, and Company Building

In yesterday’s post, I shared the difference between wealth and income. Here are some ways for founders to think about wealth, income, and company building.

A business that makes creating income for the owners top priority is usually optimized to do so. That means that cash generated by the business is removed from the business for the benefit of the owners. And it usually means that the company isn’t reinvesting in growth opportunities as heavily as it could. The focus is on how much cash the company can generate and distribute to owners.

A business focused on creating wealth is focused on growing the value of the business. To make that happen, the business is trying to scale its solution quickly. Cash generated by the business is reinvested in growth opportunities within the business. The company may even raise outside capital (i.e., venture capital) to accelerate growth. The founders of these companies usually target getting a windfall when they sell all or part of the company after it reaches material scale.

Most companies I see fall in one of these two buckets. But there are exceptions. Some founders build companies that are hybrids: extremely profitable and high-growth companies that generate income for owners and increase the owner’s wealth rapidly because the business value skyrockets. The hybrid businesses I’ve seen have high profit margins, which drives their profitability, and solve a painful problem well, which drives their growth. This type of business is very attractive and tends to be valued richly. The founders of these companies (if they have majority ownership) control their destiny because they’ve created an asset that both materially increases their wealth and provides income.