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The Definition of Value Is Changing — Here's What Entrepreneurs Need to Know to Survive the Shifting Global Trends Value has taken on a different meaning in today's world. Here's what entrepreneurs need to know in order to capitalize on these changes.

By Jarrett Preston Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • How values shift
  • How value is perceived
  • How value is experienced

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurs have long worked hard to build their wealth and create dynasties by creating value in the marketplace and finding unique ways to solve problems. In recent years, however, the way entrepreneurs have been approaching this has shifted. Often, this involved allocating a percentage of their profits into savings accounts to act as a hedge for the well-being of their companies during a market downturn or a need for liquidity to meet payroll. Another method was to generate profits, raise your net worth, take a member draw and make your money work for you by putting it into real estate or stocks.

However, the world is changing, and along with it, the idea of what is valuable is changing. Entrepreneurs need to understand this updated landscape to capitalize on these changes and continue building their multigenerational dynasties.

Value has historically been defined by fiscal money, tangible assets (such as art, land and property) and other net worth-building components. However, the collective, modern mentality is changing what the term "value" means in today's world.

Related: The Key to Generating Maximum Value in Today's Fast-Changing, Competitive Business Environment

What people deem to be important today is shifting rapidly from what it was even 20 years ago. The laptop or digital nomad lifestyles are en vogue, and business owners have started investing earlier in other opportunities such as digital currency, other businesses and more flexible means of creating value.

This is part of what has led to a shift in wealth distribution, with millennials and Gen Zers taking the lead for spending power, opening the interpretation of what is considered valuable. Younger generations value experience above products or things, and they use their assets to expand and enrich those life experiences.

For example, if you offer someone in their twenties $100,000 in cash or $100,000 in travel experiences, most of them will choose the travel option.

As an entrepreneur, it's vital to know what is considered valuable so you know where to put your time, energy and resources — and what kind of company to start, invest in and be a part of in today's world. Whereas before, an entrepreneur may have kept a large storehold of cash in a savings account to shore up the business, but with the recent bank collapses, entrepreneurs are now looking for other safe havens to ensure their value — and their company's value — remains secure and available to them. This is the current state of how value is shifting and what you need to know.

How values shift

Value has been changing in the form of delivery since the beginning of time. We used to trade beads and rice, then we valued fiat currency, and now we've moved to blockchain and digital currencies.

As technology continues to quicken the speed of human advancement, the actual things we use to symbolize value will likely keep changing. This is because the way that we value our time, energy and life experience is evolving beyond just survival.

Old systems of earning value, investing value and accumulating value are breaking down, and that's leading to a different meaning of what value can be.

Instead of homes, cars and belongings, people are finding more value in freedom. Freedom of experience. Freedom of time. Freedom of expression. Freedom of opportunity.

No longer are fiat currencies and tangible assets the go-to; in fact, studies show that the growing trend of other nations to establish alternate trade routes concerns entrepreneurs about the long-term value of the dollar. Entrepreneurs are looking outside the USA to international vehicles, currencies, and other categories to diversify so their wealth and businesses survive. They are looking for assets that retain their value and that they value personally, rather than putting fiat currency in a bank account or counting the number of computers and company equipment in their commercial real estate office as the only options to give the business value.

The only tried and true methods are not enough; they want to diversify with other asset classes in holdings as a backup. This may include: collecting hard assets like valuable art, gems or collectibles. In a minimalist trending society that values time over everything else, assets need to be mobile so that it's easier to access the experiences you want to have.

Related: How to Build an Impressive Investment Portfolio

How value is perceived

Because of the pandemic, people are valuing their time as an asset more than previous generations. People are no longer waiting around and assuming that they have time to waste — this is why entrepreneurs are getting younger and starting businesses earlier in life, according to the Centre for Entrepreneurs. Because of the worldwide quarantines from the pandemic, people feel that they need to make the most out of their lives in every way possible. This awakening has led to a significant difference in what people consider valuable and how they want to run a company.

How value is experienced

If you want to shore up your business with a hedge against inflation or a market downturn, consider how to increase your portfolio of assets. How someone experiences their assets directly correlates with how they experience their life and the purposes they need them to serve.

For example, some people love to collect art, hang it on their walls or proudly display it in their galleries. Other collectors have a vault of art that they haven't entered in the past 20 years, where portraits that have been passed down for the past six generations are simply collecting dust.

For the vault owner, the $30,000,000 in art they purchased with the business is not working for them. It may or may not be accumulating more wealth for them, they're not admiring it, and it's not being used in any meaningful way. So, the vault owner's collection may not be considered valuable to them because it's not enriching their life and there's a cost associated with maintaining it. Not every investor holds the same value for the same assets. It's a personal decision that goes beyond fiscal interest but also includes mental and emotional well-being considerations.

However, for the collector who spends time admiring the brushstrokes of the Impressionist paintings in their gallery each week, that person may feel that their art collection expands their creativity and happiness — therefore bringing value to their life.

Related: How to Use Alternative Assets as a Hedge Against Inflation

Overall, things are different now

There is a big difference between materialism and lived experience. Materialism for previous generations was the equivalent of wealth. Their net worth was tied to their belongings, and that was in alignment with their value system as people. However, lived experience is what today's generations value above everything else. Assets are to be used to elevate life and delight the senses, which is why travel is so highly coveted. The key to assets being considered high-value today is, in part, tied to their ability to be easily mobilized to create more lived experiences, liquidate to convert, transfer or serve other immediate personal or business needs. Therefore, the more flexible and mobile your assets are, the more subjectively valuable they are.

Because of the current housing market, stock market and other traditional investment opportunities, people are asking different questions about their valuable hard assets.

Here are some questions to ask to choose the best asset for your diversification needs:

  • Will I still want this in three years?

  • Is this an asset that fits my current lifestyle or the lifestyle that I want?

  • Is this asset something that's tradeable for something else?

  • How quickly can I divest this if I don't want it anymore or need cash for a business or personal need?

  • Does this asset expand my time freedom, or does it rob me of the time that I have that I want to invest in other experiences?

  • Does this asset pull from other assets such as money, stocks, or other things?

  • Does this asset continue to accumulate value on its own accord?

What each entrepreneur, investor or asset holder perceives as valuable will be unique to them. So, when purchasing or acquiring an asset, get clear on what that asset will do for you, how it will retain its value, whether it will cash flow or give you more time or location freedom, how quickly you can liquidate for cash to meet payroll or any other emergency business or personal needs and what its value is in your life. Adding hard tangible assets to your portfolio may ensure your personal net worth remains stable and your company remains secure in the months and years ahead.

Jarrett Preston

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Idoneus, a leading blockchain-based asset trading platform.

Jarrett Preston is the author of the bestselling book, “Billions Under Pressure: The Art and Science of Creating, Exchanging and Protecting Value”, CEO of Idoneus, a philanthropist, and Veteran of the US Marine Corps.

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