June 7, 2024

“The longer you can extend your time horizon the less competitive the game becomes, because most of the world is engaged over a very short time frame.” - William Browne

In his statement, “The longer you can extend your time horizon the less competitive the game becomes, because most of the world is engaged over a very short time frame” William Browne emphasizes the value of long-term thinking in investment and business strategies. Here's a breakdown of what he means:

Long-Term Thinking vs. Short-Term Thinking

  • Time Horizon: This refers to the length of time over which one plans or expects returns. Extending the time horizon means focusing on long-term goals and strategies rather than immediate outcomes.
  • Competitive Nature: In business or investing, competition often centers on achieving quick wins or immediate profits. Many market players focus on short-term gains driven by quarterly earnings reports, market trends, or short-lived opportunities.

Why Longer Time Horizons Reduce Competition

  1. Short-Term Bias: Most market participants—investors, companies, or other stakeholders—tend to operate with a short-term mindset. This includes focusing on quarterly results, short-term trends, or immediate profits. This short-term bias leads to intense competition as everyone chases the same immediate gains.
  2. Reduced Competition: When one adopts a long-term perspective, they are often in a less crowded space. Fewer players are willing or able to look beyond immediate results. This reduced competition arises because fewer are competing for the same long-term opportunities.
  3. Strategic Advantage: Long-term thinkers can capitalize on opportunities that short-term players overlook. They can invest in areas that may take longer to pay off but have substantial future potential. This includes investments in research and development, sustainable practices, or emerging markets requiring mature time.
  4. Better Decision-Making: With a longer time horizon, decisions can be made based on fundamental value and strategic vision rather than short-term fluctuations or pressures. This allows for a more disciplined approach, avoiding the pitfalls of short-term volatility and making it easier to ride out market cycles.

Illustrative Example

Imagine two investors:

  • Investor A focuses on short-term gains, buying and selling stocks based on quarterly earnings reports and market rumors.
  • Investor B examines companies' long-term potential, focusing on their underlying business models, growth potential, and sustainability over decades.

Investor B faces less competition in finding undervalued, long-term opportunities because most other investors are not looking that far ahead. This allows Investor B to achieve higher returns with less pressure from market competition.


Browne's insight highlights the strategic advantage of extending one's time horizon in a world predominantly driven by short-term thinking. Focusing on long-term goals allows one to operate in a less competitive environment, making decisions based on broader, more sustainable considerations.

William H. Browne is the founder and manager of the value-oriented investment firm Tweedy, Browne Company. He is known for his emphasis on long-term value investing, a strategy influenced by the principles of Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing.

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