Surpass the Test of Time: How to Stay in Business for 100 Years

Big Ideas BlogGuest post by Megan Totka


When you ask business owners their top priorities, they will likely say they want to know how to save time and money while running a business, andBig Ideas Blog Small Business Tips how to run a company that surpasses the test of time. The average lifespan of today’s companies on the S&P 500 Index is typically only 15 years according to Yale Lecturer Richard Foster.  In the 1920s, they lasted for an average of 67 years.  The trend is both sad and startling.  Follow these five small business tips that every organization can take to put itself on the path to a successful business that could potentially last 100 years:

Maintain a razor-sharp focus on customers.

Think of companies such as the Girl Scouts of the USA that developed an unwavering focus on the way people interact.  This company is relentlessly focused on understanding the way every generation of girls live in order to stay relevant.  The Girls Scouts realize that its customers’ needs are constantly evolving and moving at the speed of a girl.

Value company culture.

Build a solid foundation and company identity through meticulous management of the organization’s culture.  The culture of a company speaks volumes.  It must be cherished and protected in order for long-term success to endure. Even a company has a personality that is encompassed by the people within it, but the persona is stronger than all of its pieces, i.e. the organization’s team. A solid company culture can make a fundamental difference in the business’ success.

Be willing to chart new territory.

The needs of customers are constantly changing.  One thing that holds common for businesses that have celebrated their centennial birthday is that they have taken significant gambles to expand their offerings.  Customers need more than a great product or service.  They need products and services that synch with technology and are current with today’s needs.

Place high value on core strength and values.

If the time comes and a large-scale change needs to be made, take time to prepare for it and implement the change.  Procter & Gamble began in 1837 and is a great example of a company that established tradition and values and both innovative and practical products for its consumers.  The company’s strength and priorities have built its initial success and lead to achievement for many years.

Have conservative financial practices.

To create a company that can live to be 100 years, you should lean hard to the conservative side when it comes to borrowing money and be aware of the risks of financing your business on credit cards.  Take the more profitable and rich seasons and use this money as reserves for your company when the profit is thinner.  Create a compensation plan that maintains the company’s financial health, such as paying a base salary plus commission to promote involvement among the company’s members.

Does this sound similar to the way your company is run?  If not, then try to adjust your business – you don’t want your business to fail.  These steps and characteristics describe many well-known companies that have endured 100 years in business, and anticipate more growth for years to come.  This shows that they must be doing something right.

Does your business have what it takes to endure 100 years?  Feel free to share your thoughts.

To get your business on the path to longevity, make sure your online leads are converting by following the tips in “Let’s Get Digital.”

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.