I said in conversation recently that “everything in business is about buying time”. I wanted to expand on that thought.

A business itself is often funded by investors that allow it to make mistakes in the pursuit of a higher purpose. It borrows time in the form of capital that it uses to make micro-investments of it’s own. Some, when those investments really pay off, they give the ability to buy a lot of time. Those are often called “moats” but unlike moats they are not permanent. Almost everything in business is constantly changing.

Within a company’s leadership, discussions often circle around resources - what, how many, and where they should be allocated. When we pitch for resources for a project, we’re asking to borrow a set of resources for a specific period of time. We are buying time.

This concept extends down to every team and ultimately every individual action. When an individual or team succeeds, they are given the ability to borrow more time. Success begets success, which really just means you’ve bought enough time until the next time you need to. This simplifies the intricacies of a human enterprise, but it’s a helpful mental model nonetheless.