7 Keys to Small-Business Longevity

You built a successful pumping business and you’d like to hand it down to the kids someday? Learn these sustainable business practices, and make it to the next generation.
7 Keys to Small-Business Longevity
Jill Johnson is a speaker, author and president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services. Reach her at www.jcs-usa.com.

Everyone who starts or leads a business dreams of passing it along to the next generation. But few are successful in making it happen. Every year, countless businesses and organizations fail. Long-term success takes more than hard work and a little luck. Leaders and entrepreneurs who achieve exceptional business longevity share seven business practices that move them to long-term success. They think differently. They operate differently. And they lead differently.

1. Engage in ongoing planning with a realistic vision

Successful executives and entrepreneurs are prepared to perform beyond the startup mode. They continually rewrite their initial business plan to explore new opportunities and seek ideas to enhance operations and profitability. They are disciplined in writing down their plans, reviewing them, and sharing with their key employees and advisors. They know ongoing planning keeps them focused and helps to formally evaluate what is working and what needs changing.

2. Establish a realistic vision for the future

Lasting business leaders also match their vision to their abilities. They leverage one success into another rather than rapidly making huge leaps beyond their capabilities. Those who don’t have a realistic vision risk everything because they reach too high before their cash, talent or operational capability is prepared for it. Enduring leaders actively and effectively manage their transitions and hire talent to match their future needs. Their success is sustainable because they build it on a viable foundation based in reality, not on wishful thinking.

3. Implement sound fiscal management

Fiscal discipline is fundamental to long-term business success. Yet few leaders have the self-discipline to manage their cash flow for the inevitable peaks and valleys. They respond to immediate pressures and spend money they don’t have. Too many leaders spend money on the flash and glitz, trying to impress people. They never prepare for the future because they’re focused on living in the moment. Some make ill-advised decisions that create financial crises rather than making prudent commitments they can realistically handle. Successful leaders of enduring enterprises focus on building real net worth by being masters at financial discipline and tightly controlling what they spend.

4. Adapt to changing circumstances

Markets change, and technology advances. Those who are successful over the long-term understand and adapt to change. They invest in people and technology to enhance productivity. They stay on top of competitors and respond as necessary. By continually adapting, they are able to recognize trends that may fundamentally transform their industries. Enduring leaders create enterprises that last well beyond their tenure, always looking ahead to identify tools, resources, ideas and technology that can enhance their organization.

5. Build substance into the enterprise

Businesses have come and gone over the decades. Some succeeded brilliantly, but most failed to meet the expectations hyped by their founders and owners. The primary reason is lack of substance; most of what was promoted was smoke and mirrors. Sustainable enterprises have substance. They deliver on their promises. Clients, vendors and employees can count on them. These enterprises demonstrate a consistency of product and service quality that can be trusted over time. A reputation for dependability is often a real predictor of long-term enterprise success.

6. Control growth

Those who survive over the long haul carefully and deliberately manage the size and growth of their business. Those who focus on growth ensure they have adequate finances, equipment and staff to meet their evolving needs. Those who maintain a smaller size often find they can better manage overhead and fixed costs. Maintenance-oriented enterprises may even make more money and have less stress than their growth-oriented peers. In either case, the most successful business owners effectively manage their appetite for risk and keep business scope within their comfort zone.

7. Maintain motivation

Staying motivated is tough in any business. Once the day-to-day activities begin to become routine, most people lose their enthusiasm. Even harder is dealing with the real stresses of leadership. Leaders of enduring enterprises motivate themselves and their employees by continuing to look for new opportunities to better meet customer needs. This provides an atmosphere of innovation and success measured in revenue, customer satisfaction and employee retention.

Leaders who enjoy enduring business success have learned to constantly adapt. They respond to competitive pressures by finding ways to meet evolving customer needs. The secret to long-term success is doing things with discipline and excellence. Are you ready to become a leader of an enduring enterprise? If so, what is the first strategy you need to implement?


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