10 Rules for a Built-to-Last digital Business

10 Rules for a Built-to-Last digital Business

10 Rules for a Built-to-Last digital Business is an article based on Jim Collins book, “Built to Last”. We apply the concepts in the book to digital and online businesses, and digital and affiliate marketing.

The dream of building a business also contains a wish to make it last forever. People want their businesses to run for ages and become their legacy in the future. With this in mind, you might want to create a digital business that is built to last and become a brand in its name.

But the question is, how can you create a business that has a long term prospect? What factors make a business successful and why some other startups fail to become a business empire? In this article, we’ll explore these issues and try to answer them with the help of ideas presented in a wonderful book written by Jim Collins.

Jim Collins is an author of several books on the subject of business management and sustainable corporate growth. He is also a speaker and a consultant in this area. In this article, we’ll discuss some ideas from his book, “Built to Last” and apply those ideas to the digital world.

For our purpose, we’ll discuss digital businesses and how it is important to consider strategies that make a digital business last forever.

First, we’ll take a look at the characteristics of a business that is built to last. Next, we’ll mention 10 rules for a built-to-last digital business. After that, we’ll discuss BHAG as mentioned in the book. Then, we’ll talk about the strategic business model for sustainable growth. And, finally, we’ll discuss the importance of foundations for a business and how they help make it sustainable. So, let’s get started.

How to build a business that lasts?

Some businesses outlive their founders but others burn like a spark yet quickly turn to ashes. In his book, “Built to Last”, Jim Collins outlines the characteristics of a sustainable business. We’ll apply those ideas to our digital world and see what ‘habits’ we need to adapt to succeed in the online and digital world. Based on that book, we’ll discuss 10 rules for a built-to-last digital business.

Rule#1-Become a business leader instead of a follower

First among the 10 rules for a built-to-last digital business is leadership, and making your own decisions. You might think that you’re already self-employed when you’re in the digital market but that’s not always true. You might have a website of your own but that does not mean you’re working from your genius. In simple words, if you’re copying other people’s work, then you’ll always be one step behind them. Jim calls it ‘telling the time instead of building a clock”.

Rule#2- More than Profits- Have a purpose

This means that your business should have a higher purpose than just making money. If you want people to love your work, make sure you solve some of their problems. Or you improve their life in some way. This Jim calls “the core” of a business. In the digital world, you may adopt the purpose of adding value to people’s lives. And you can create valuable content that is based on integrity and truthfulness.

Rule#3- Preserve the Core while you stimulate the progress

This is important for long term success. Whatever happens, don’t compromise on your values and purpose, the core. Don’t sell your integrity at any rate. If you’re not making money, be patient. Don’t change your core beliefs at any cost.

Rule#4-BHAGs-Think big, aim high

BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It means having a clear vision, a clear goal that people get right away. For example, when NASA announced the moon mission, everyone understood it and adopted it as a new target. It was audacious yet made people excited. It was difficult yet it motivated people.

A digital company must also have a clear aim that everyone can understand from a distance.

Rule#5-Cult-Like cultures

There is no doubt that management is a rational and organizational phenomenon but the charisma of a leader can never be removed from this process. Remember Steve Jobs, he had a cult-like following. When he would announce a project, people would anticipate in advance that something genuine and incredible is on its way. He had built this charismatic following that enabled his company to grow a loyal customer base.

Rule#6-Try a Lot of Stuff and Keep what works

The digital world is full of success stories and unicorn businesses that changed the lives of millions. But there are countless number of people who did not succeed in their first businesses. A website may not make you money at all, the next one may make you a millionaire. Because the digital world works on a trial and error basis. Therefore, don’t take the failure to your heart, keep trying out different and unique ideas and something will work that’ll stick.

For example, when we started, we tried many companies for affiliation but one that made us good money was cj.com.

Rule#7-Home-Grown Management

Home-grown management means to curate and foster people from within the company. Visionary companies don’t need a leader from outside to move forward or for new ideas. They develop their employees to become future leaders.

In the digital world, you also need to provide leadership internally. Many startups develop by single person and become insanely successful.

Rule#8-Good Enough Never Is- In digital perspective

Let’s say you created a great content for your website that people loved and shared a lot. That’s just one piece of content. You need to move on and do better next time. Don’t give up after a failure but never stop after a success either. Many people are overwhelmed by a small success and lose sight of the bigger picture. Make sure you keep improving yourself every day.

Keep learning new things every day. Never stop pursuing perfection. You can always use platforms like Fiverr Learn to equip yourself with new skills.

Rule#9- Adopt a Strategic business model for the digital world

A strategic business model provides the basic purpose of a digital company. It makes clear to people what benefits it provides to the public. In addition, it outlines the strategies to achieve that purpose. This model aims to devise a vision for a company. Once that is done, the model then aims to achieve that vision through targets, missions, and strategies in practical terms. This helps achieve a digital competitive advantage and ensures success.

Rule#10-Foundations are important in digital businesses

A building without a strong foundation does not stand for a long time. It might look good from the outside, but it cannot face adverse conditions. Similarly, a business built on weak foundations will not last for a long time. That’s our 10th rule for a built-to-last digital business.

In digital businesses, there are not many departments and organizational structures.  However, this does not mean that they don’t need a strong planning or a stable groundwork. In this arena, the most important part of a strong foundation in research. If you’ve done in-depth research, then your business will be long-lasting.


In terms of research, you need to know the market. You must know the potential of the market and whether your product or service will sell for a long time. Also, you need to research your competitors. If you know your competitors well, you know that what customers are getting. You then can improve on that product or service to capture customer attention. In the long run, however, you’ll need to deliver quality service and products.

If you need help in this regard, then you can hire an expert from Fiverr. It’ll save you money and time and you’ll get a new brain added to your work.


Another factor in digital marketing or other digital businesses is analysis. This analysis could be of competitor strategies, content, or reach. You also need a continuous analysis to improve your services. This helps you know the trends and how you are measuring up to those trends.

It also includes your Affiliate Marketing website analysis. A good website that can help a business last longer is the one that keeps up with the trends and needs of the people. In terms of ease of setting up, the best choice in our opinion is SiteGround. Register there and have a great website for your digital business. Next, we discuss the characteristics of a built to last business.

Final Thoughts

To conclude the discussion on 10 rules for a built-to-last digital business, let’s review a little bit that we’ve learned today. We discussed the ideas discussed in the bestseller book, “Built to Last” by Jim Collins. The rules we’ve learned are equally important in the digital world and online marketing. The foundation, research and analysis, leadership, creativity, improvement, cult-like following, and management are all extremely important.

A company can achieve short term success by ignoring these golden rules but it cannot last long. The businesses we see as flourishing today were just a startup yesterday but they adopted these habits. They did not compromise on integrity and always delivered a quality and valuable service to customers.

In the next article, we’ll discuss why some digital companies become successful while others fail to develop into big giants. Also, how some companies become an average company, or even a good company, but never achieve great company status.

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