20 Secrets of an Enduring Business

Thousands of companies are launched every day. Out of the thousands, only a few hundred will survive the first year, a few dozen will mark its fifth-year anniversary and a handful will manage to reach its tenth year in business. Some companies will start big and with great promise but will soon peter out of the radar. Many businesses start small, hit a spurt and then explode to oblivion.

1.       Start with a good product

Build a business around a valuable product, a great idea and a solid need. If you have something that people need or perceive to need, your chances of success and staying power are exponentially increased. Every business starts on a product, make sure yours will carry you through the fad.

2.       Get to know your customers

Get to know the people who are buying your products, paying your operating expenses and your allowances. Catching their attention and getting them to try a new product is one thing, convincing them to use it regularly and recommend to their friends is another. You should aim for the later.

3.       Build a good business network

It takes a whole network of associates and partners to operate a business – suppliers, contractors, middlemen and the like. Do not isolate yourself and your business. In order to stay long in the business, you must develop a healthy and strong connection among all the players in the industry you’re in.

4.       Keep your employees happy

Your employees run the business. The CEO or the owner are just directing, supporting and guiding them. It is the front liners, the supervisors and the support staff that do the hard work. Keeping your employees happy will translate to better services, happier customers, optimum productivity and increased profitability.

5.       Excellent financial planning

Enduring businesses have the best financial planners on board. They could be the managers, the owners or even a finance expert advisor working with the company. Good financial forecasting is key to surviving and results in catching business opportunities, preparing for business slumps and making the most out of the company’s resources.

6.       A healthy work environment

You owe it to your employees to create a healthy workplace environment. It is a requisite to content and happy employees. Make sure your employees are in a safe working environment, that includes a safe and comfortable place of work and sociable atmosphere free of discrimination and antagonism.

7.       Embracing change

Change is the only thing certain. People’s needs changes, your customers’ purchasing power will change, the economy will change, legislations will be added, new products will come along, and new technology will create a whole new different way of life. The only way for your business to survive is by embracing change.

8.       Put a premium on company integrity

Build on your company’s reputation and do it by consistently providing excellent products and services. People will easily tire of shiny things without substance. Do not jeopardise your brand for quick money schemes, disreputable associations and shady deals. Build a brand that people will respect and know for its highest quality of products and services.

9.       Open and robust communication lines

Business leaders need to be on loop of what’s happening in the business front lines – the production line, the sales counters, the suppliers and their customers. Knowing how the business is doing is essential to making relevant and impactful decisions. When you’re at the top of the tier, it is hard to keep up on what’s happening at the bottom. The best way to keep tabs with what’s really happening to the company is to set up open communications lines within the company.  

10.   Create traditions

Company traditions form strong bonds within the organisation. It gives employees something to look forward to and be excited about. It also serves as a common reference and conversational topic for everyone in the company. One great example is a company who hands out jackets every year. You can see how proud long-time employees would wear their older jackets.

11.   Don’t skip marketing

Most businesses will invest in marketing to launch new products or company developments. However, one shouldn’t forego marketing after the product launch. Out of sight, out of mind. People will start to wonder what happened to you after a long stretch of silence. The most enduring companies find ways to keep their brands on top of their clients’ mind. Publicity gimmick could include charity events, holiday greetings and sponsorships.

12.   Strive for uniqueness

It is always the pioneers and leaders that stay the longest. Copycats might gain success, but it will not be for long. Customers will eventually shift back to the original. Instead of offering something that is similar or a knockoff, strive to come up with something unique. It will be harder to market, and profits will come in slower, but once it took off, it will stay for a long time.

13.   Watch your finances

Entrepreneurs would rather leave their finances to the finance department or the person most adept on handling money. This is common and is actually a brilliant strategy, let the expert handle the task. However, it is also pivotal to keep an eye on the figures, the reports and the money trends.

14.   Establish scalable systems

Business growth is not always a blessing. It could mean trouble, especially to smaller organisations undergoing a growth spurt. Small businesses might not be able to cope with a sudden demand, leading to cancelled orders and disgruntled buyers. A scalable system will enable a company to adjust and accommodate huge orders in demand or reduce to minimal as required. It is also a must for companies in seasonal industries.

15.   Balance taking risks with stability

A conservative approach to business decisions will keep your company safe and stable, while riskier decisions often lead to great gains or significant losses. Stability doesn’t ensure growth and longevity and taking risks will eventually cause the business to fail. The secret to long-lasting companies is knowing when to take calculated risks and when to stay safe.

16.   Stay creative

Do not stop being creative after one perfect product. That product will eventually go out-of-style, obsolete or irrelevant. Keep innovating and creating new products and services that will thrill your customers. Keep updating and re-inventing those that you already have. Competitors will surely come up with something better, make sure you’re always one step ahead.

17.   Customer satisfaction trumps profits

Listen to customer complaints, learn from it and use it to improve your products and services. Never ignore complaints as these your customers talking to you and giving you important feedback. Welcome a complaint, thank the complainant and try hard to make up for their inconvenience and effort. When confronted with a complaint, forget the profit, you stand to lose more if you ignore customers.

18.   Invest in an R&D team

Part of leading the pack and innovation is an in-house research and development team. This is how you improve existing products, create better products and innovate new products. R&D department could be a bit pricey to put together and maintain, but its business returns will more than make up for the expense.

19.   Protect your assets

Make sure that you’ve got your assets secured. Get patents and copyrights, ensure the upkeep and maintenance of infrastructure and equipment and set up sinking funds for anticipated replacements. Manage your receivables and inventory and take care of your employees. Enduring companies take the extra mile to secure their resources.

20.   Be the honest guy

Trust will get you a long way in business. The honest guy will always get the best supplies, the lowest interest rate and the most customers. Fooling the people in the industry for a quick profit is the fastest way for your company to die. If you want your company to last long, stick to the honest deals.