If we ask to a CEO what the most important thing in their company is, probably the answer will be one of these two:

–      The product/service;

–      The employees.

Now, if we change a little bit the question and we ask CEOs what the biggest priority is, the answer will be between:

–      Customers;

–      Shareholders.

The biggest priority would be to have happier customers or shareholders therefore, in theory, the most important thing is not a priority (it sounds odd, right?). But, be careful, you should not focus too much on these last two. Indeed, literature is full of stories with an unhappy ending: remember, people buy what they need and not what they want; be sure that shareholders care for you and not (only) about your money.

So, let’s change the question another time: if your company was on fire, what would you save?

A self-made entrepreneur would say: “The product. I started alone, and I can do it again.”

A marketing CEOs would say: “The customers. When you already have clients, the start-up will be much easier.”

A financial CEOs would say: “The shareholders. With money I can buy whatever I want and I can start with style.”

A social CEOs would say: “The employees. A great team can achieve everything.”

But, maybe, there is one thing, not listed before, that can become a great product, gather a close team, attract resourceful investors and rise interest from enthusiastic customers. A thing that is important and is a priority.

To discover what it is, let’s look at a real situation.

Imagine that your company is struggling (it is not on fire). Your financial situation is not very good, your customers do not appreciate what you are selling, your employees are more frequently moody, and your product does not reflect the quality you were looking for.

Thus, you ask for an external help from someone such as a private equity or similar. The interesting part is that the management team will help you on all these four assets (employees, product, customers and shareholders), but they will always start from one thing: the company’s identity, the reason why your company exist, the vision, the “why.” Indeed, this is the only thing that make you different, this is the soul of your competitive advantage.

Hopefully, your company is not on fire, please take care of all your assets and do not forget the reason why you decided to start your business.