I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of an Inc. Magazine article by the great Bo Burlingham about How to Build a Company That Will Be Around in 2115 .* It’s great to see this topic get press so more entrepreneurs can feel supported in building for the long term.
To add to what I said in the article, here’s my formula for building a company that will be around one hundred years from now (in this order):
1. Start with a product or service that LOTS of customers want/need to buy repeatedly. Repeat Customers + Big Enough Industry = Continued Growth
2. Be profitable. Grow the business in a way that expenses are always a good margin below costs. This profit margin enables us to self-fund our own growth without outside investors or debt. This requires a sharp eye towards which positions/people in an organization produce real value.
3. Build a great organization that people can thrive in. Happier coworkers means happier customers and less turnover of both.
4. Resist the urge to sell when feeling burnt out, incapable, or bored. These feelings will most likely pass.
5. Create a culture of innovation that keeps the product/service relevant and exciting for a growing number of customers.
6. Create leadership succession by promoting/cultivating/mentoring from within.
7. Create an ownership succession plan to preserve the company for many generations to come.
*As a side note:
Just out of college, Inc. Magazine was my favorite publication. Read it cover to cover the day it arrived. I loved the stories about entrepreneurs growing their businesses. I remember dreaming about the possibility of being one of those profiled in Inc. one day. Would I build a company(s) worthy of being in the magazine or would I be sleeping on my sister’s couch?
Fast forward twenty-some years and I’m waiting for my beautiful wife in a hair salon before heading to dinner, when I see Inc Magazine on the lobby table and open it up to see my ugly mug bigger than life! It was fun, funny, and a bit of I’m-not-worthy all at once. And to make it even sweeter, the article was written by the former Inc Editor in Chief of twenty years ago that I loved, Bo Burlingham. I would have never predicted that I’d have something to say about building great companies for life. I was just a scrappy kid trying to make an independent living. Half scared, half crazy, with a whole lot persistence to make up for both.