When asked about the state of the watch business by a reporter, a Rolex CEO stated that he had no idea.  The reporter was surprised and asked the CEO how it was that he would not know the state of his own industry. The CEO replied,”We are not in the watch business. We are in the luxury business.”

 

“The railroads were so busy competing amongst themselves that they did not realise they were in competition with cars, planes and ships. They thought they were in the railways business, while in real fact, they were in the transportation business”

 

I have no idea where, or when, I came across these quotes. I can’t seem to find them via the omniscient Google, either. For several years, I have had them in my head whenever I am working on my own business, or advising businesses. They are a case of knowing, and not knowing, one’s business. 

Over the past week, while preparing to put the Abacus prototype into public beta, I have been talking various people about the business/revenue model, and trying to figure what to do about competition. From these discussions, something became clear to me; that by looking at what other people in my space were doing and trying to do it better, I was losing track of why I was in the space; what my business actually is. 

Know your business. Always.