Anyone who has the magic formula for what makes a business last for generations could sell it for countless billions.
But unfortunately, there’s no fool-proof plan for entrepreneurial empire building – there are simply too many cross-cutting issues to consider and it’s impossible to predict precisely how future markets will wax and wane.
However, we can make educated guesses at some of the factors that might make your firm futureproof by looking at real-life examples of some of the world’s oldest companies.
If you’re ready to build a business legacy, here are key lessons from long lasting firms.
Capitalise on natural resources
If you can exploit the economic potential of natural resources in a sustainable, eco-friendly, fashion, you’re possibly onto a winning business idea.
That’s just what the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan inn has done – founded in 705 AD, it attracts guests to this day thanks to the iconic health-giving hot spring which flows through it.
Meet basic human needs brilliantly
We all have to eat to survive, so satisfying this need with consistently excellent cuisine is one way to establish a company that lasts from generations.
The Stiftskeller St Peter in Austria has been filling bellies and slaking thirsts since 803AD, serving a marvellous menu of local classics with modern variations for vegans and customers who are lactose intolerant.
Be the place where people celebrate
In Britain at least, people tend to celebrate in the local pub – raising a glass to toast engagements, weddings, births, graduations and sporting victories is imprinted indelibly in the collective psyche.
So, if you can pull a pint, keep your barrels fresh and serve tasty bar food, you might be laying the foundations for perpetual success. Look to The Bingley Arms in West Yorkshire for inspiration – it’s been pleasing punters since 953 AD.
Excel in customer service
Moving home or business premises can be one of the most stressful experiences – especially if you’re migrating to a new country and not just to a different street, town or city.
But amazingly, Aberdeen’s Shore Porters Society has been making this scenario smooth and hassle free for their customers since 1498, six years after Columbus became the first European in the Americas.
Adapt your core offering
Sticking to your guns in terms of your core products and service means that you’ll achieve brand consistency, but you may also have to adapt to emerging market demands as the years pass.
For example, braid experts Ormiston Wire were founded in 1793 to sell wire for wigs and corsets in London’s theatreland, but have remained relevant by adapting their wire products for applications in everything from puppetry to the military.
As you can see, there are various ways to build a business legacy – hopefully these five famous examples have provided you with ample food for thought as you plan your own path.
So ends our investigation, but please share your own thoughts on business legacies in the comments section!
Interesting related article: “What is a Brand?“