No-one sets out to just be a one-hit-wonder. You could plough everything into your first big release – only to quickly end up residing in the ‘Where are they now?’ file. Alternatively, you could lay the foundations for a loyal following, and build a back catalogue to be proud of.

Love it or loathe it, The X Factor is nothing if not predictable. The token “eccentrics” early on, the judges’ arguments, the teary backstories: these seem destined to be part of our Saturday night viewing until ITV’s accountants decide otherwise.

The outcomes have become predictable too. Simon Cowell will declare at least once during each series, “I think we may have found the next superstar”. But he knows, as by now do the viewers (and probably also the contestant) that whatever else is on the cards for the ultimate winner, ‘superstar status’ probably isn’t.

So the product is launched within a matter of days: a routine cover that bags the number one spot for Christmas (whatever that means now). Next comes an album. It’s inoffensive if thinly-produced, but already the star is waning and the ‘brand’ is about to pass its sell-by-date. Steve Brookstein, Leon Jackson, Joe McElderry… they might appear on your pub quiz answer sheet – but probably not on your playlist.

What do Simon Cowell and Silicon Valley have in common?

Regardless of how good or bad these singers are, the way they are unleashed on the market means they are almost guaranteed to be a one-hit-wonder. A similar vibe is evident over in Silicon Valley. This is an area where stardust is in the air, but look beyond the surface and you’ll find that the startup failure rate is at an estimated 90%.

For every Uber and Airbnb, there are countless other companies that either fail completely to get off the ground or that fizzle out within a matter of months. What’s more, in a hothouse atmosphere surrounded by success, it seems that many start-up founders are overestimating the chances of victory and the cost of failure.

So are these tech entrepreneurs focused on building something that can go the distance? It appears not. A typical piece of startup advice comes from George Deeb: be in the right place at the right time, get your product out as quickly as possible – and then get out. This is the ‘dine-and-dash’ model: where the exit strategy is an almost all-consuming concern.

The trouble is, it’s often hard to get ‘fans’ (i.e. customers and investors) to summon up much enthusiasm if it’s clear that all you really care about is selling the business.

In some cases this might work if all you want is the business equivalent of a number one Christmas hit; where the company is nothing more than a vehicle for your own fame and fortune. But if you’re aiming to build something that stands the test of time – an ‘act’ that endures, then a slightly different approach is called for.

Asking “Why am I doing this?”

When questioned by Esquire why The Rolling Stones had lasted so long, Keith Richards summed it up like this: “Cos we’re damn good and we genuinely love what we do. We do it for ourselves. And I don’t mean that money-wise – of course, you don’t mind getting paid, but that is not the driving force behind this band.”

So many successful business owners express themselves in a similar way. Even in the unglamorous world of data security, former Symantec CEO John Thompson asserted what motivates him: “Philosophically, I believe that business is personal, that if you don’t get personally involved in what you get done – if you’re not emotionally committed to it, it’s unlikely that you’re going to have a high degree of success.”

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban, entrepreneur & investor.

Passion, not the promise of the next pay cheque, drives long-term success. For The Stones that passion was born more than half a century ago when they, like other dedicated ‘Thames Delta’ blues fans would go to incredible lengths to hunt out and share recordings from (then) obscure American bluesmen. It’s not about wanting to be famous for the sake of it, or building up a fleet of limos: it’s about following something authentically real.

How to avoid becoming a throwaway act

Brewdog is the UK’s fastest-growing drinks company, shipping over 41m bottles of craft beer in 2015. Co-founder James Watt has some strong views on starting something, just to sell it “Exit plans are for gimps who weren’t that committed in the first place. It sickens me to think we could build something stellar, that we passionately believe in, and then trash it for some fast bucks.” Watt clearly wants to build something that stands the test of time. If you share his view, here’s a few pointers to ensure you too build a timeless act:

Don’t be defined by a one-off success

When IBM celebrated its 100th birthday a few years ago, CEO Samuel Palmisano identified the essential characteristics of the company that explain its longevity.

Top of the list is the fact that the business is NOT defined by a single product or particular service offering. From scales and clocks through to global networks, the organisation has never been about pinning its hopes on the ‘next big thing’: at heart, it’s about helping its customers handle information. It’s the company’s character and reputation that has carried it through – not single, isolated propositions.

Don’t wear someone else’s clothes

It would be interesting to know how many bands and photographers have gone into a photo shoot specifically trying to recreate the look and feel of Dominique Tarle’s photographs of The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street sessions. The thing is, at that French Chateau, there wasn’t a stylist in sight: that was all real.

At best, mimicking someone else’s look and identity is likely to confine you to also-ran status. Staying true to your philosophy and focusing on your strengths on the other hand, can draw people to you naturally.

Take Carhartt, for instance. Founded in 1889, it focused on no-nonsense workwear, tough enough for railroad workers. Fast forward 100 years and it was still doing basically the same thing – and doing a lot of it on American soil rather than outsourcing it all overseas. It certainly didn’t change its ways to court a ‘hip’ new audience. Yet the authenticity of the brand was enough to earn it a following among hipsters the world over.

Get the culture right

Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Manic Street Preachers; all examples of bands that continued to thrive after lineup changes.

IBM boss, Palmisano identified a further vitally important characteristic that drives the company’s longevity: a strong focus on culture. He linked this to the ability of the organisation to go on and succeed – even if a charismatic leader leaves. It’s connected to the idea of ‘no one person being bigger than the band’. But it’s not just about managing egos: it’s about having a very clear ethos that all team members understand and buy into at the moment the join and that’s reinforced as they come on board. If this ethos is strong, it resonates with fans too – helping to turn them into loyal supporters.

So, follow a genuine passion, focus on identity and culture, and don’t pin everything on your latest release. By doing so, you’re in good stead for dodging one-hit-wonder status.