Zebra Company or Unicorn Company

We have seen some companies emerged in recent years obsessed with the “get big fast” philosophy, jumped into in hopes of becoming the next “unicorn.”

An interesting perspective is that companies should strive to be zebras, not unicorns. Unicorn companies are bent on ‘disruption’ rather than supporting businesses that repair, cultivate, and connect. Unlike unicorns, zebras are real, mutualistic and are both profitable and improve society.

But it seems that some tech companies are engaged in a fast and furious race toward a goal that does nothing for the people. To the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?” they answer, “I want to go public.” Is this acceptable from a growth-strategy standpoint? Of course. But is it enough?

Doing well can, and should, also mean doing good — and that doing good contributes to a company’s growth in major ways. A company is more than the sum of the individuals who work there: it is a collective being with personality and a set of values that should fuel every aspect of its life.

When a company is actively engaged in making our society better, this priority becomes part of its brand. A company that is authentically true to its values will attract talent that shares similar ethics, increasing internal collaboration, reducing turnover and incurring goodwill that translates into sales. Working with like-minded individuals is a strong growth driver.

Looking only at results quarter over quarter is a sure way to lose track of what makes a company’s offering unique and appealing to its customers. Taking the short view can only lead to being short-sighted.

Summing-up: Focusing on long-term goals — which becomes impossible when a company is in the IPO race and thinking only of potential investors — allows for increased agility and takes the pressure off. This creates head space for a company to think more proactively about its future, to stretch and stand on its toes rather than on its heels, and anticipate and adapt to market shifts more easily.

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