The taxi or the cruise ship?
The successful cab owner knows this:
- Every ride is custom
- People choose a cab precisely because they can ride alone, on their own terms
- Empty trips are part of the job, and it’s okay, because the next ride will pay for it.
On the other hand, the person who chooses to run a cruise line knows:
- Every cruise is designed by me, and people sign up precisely because I chose well
- People choose a cruise ship to be with other people, to benefit from economies of scale and to be part of something
- Empty trips (or worse, half-empty trips) can put the line out of business
It’s pretty easy to get into the cab business. Do a few rides for friends, then list online, or join Lyft, then go full-time.
On the other hand, it’s much more difficult to get into the cruise business. There’s a critical mass, and the minimum number is a lot more than one customer.
Each business can be a good one if you do it at the appropriate scale.
The warning, and the purpose of the metaphor, is to realize that it’s not a matter of gradually going from one to the other. Remember that running a taxi is a fine sort of business, but don’t expect to turn it into a cruise ship. And vice versa.
Great metaphor that illustrates a point many founders miss. Running a fleet of taxis is not the same as running a fleet of ships.
Seth Godin’s latest blog:
The Money Maximization Distraction
The Rolling Stones have grossed more than a billion dollars in ticket sales and endorsements. Does that mean that they’re better than Beethoven, John Adams and Zoe Keating, put together? Were the Bay City Rollers better than Patti Smith?
There are CEOs who make more in a year than 1,000 of their workers. Does that mean that they’re 1,000 times more important or productive or worthwhile?
Money is a simple metric, and one that captures a certain sort of information about value and scarcity. But it’s wildly inaccurate when it comes to measuring many of the things that actually matter to us. It can mask the emotions and moments and contributions that we work so hard on, the people that we seek to become, the contributions that we seek to make.
- Profitable is not the same as important
- Popular is the not the same as worthwhile
- Expensive is not the same as well-done
And yet, because it’s easy to rank and compare and change, we can get seduced into believing that money is the metric that matters the most, that matters all the time. If we only use money to make our decisions about worth, we’re going to get it wrong almost every time.
Until we get significantly better at matching money to contribution, we need to embrace the difficult to measure. I’ll trade you a great fourth grade teacher for a foreign exchange desk currency trader any day.