Four ways to produce longevity
Los Angeles is just as I remembered.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous.
The beaches and the Pacific welcomed me back home. I breathed in the salt air, felt the wind on my face and I exhaled.
I did notice the city had less graffiti and there was one other thing I noticed.
I was born in Los Angeles and spent the first 22 years or so of my life there and certain businesses act as landmarks from my childhood.
The “Adee Do” sign on Crenshaw brought back memories of the commercial and the frequent trips in my grandmother’s car down this busy boulevard. The business is still operating and has been since 1949.
Johnny’s Pastrami on Adams Boulevard was still serving the best pastrami sandwiches and has been doing so since 1956.
There were lots of businesses from my childhood still doing business in the same location, some with the same signage 30 plus years later.
I’ll take a guess that some of the fast food chains like McDonalds, El Pollo Loco, and Yoshinoya may have changed owners but to my amazement they were still conducting business. The stores, the businesses, the restaurants from childhood are pretty much all still there and as an entrepreneur I marveled at their longevity.
So how do you build a business that spans generations?
Can’t be afraid of change
Your product may not call for very much change but how you conduct business, how you interact with customers, employees and vendors that calls for change. We’re no longer typing up invoices, faxing over orders to vendors or God-forbid thinking of employees as disposable resources. Successful businesses modify and adapt.
Even though some things change, some things stay the same. Coke learned you don’t go changing the formula to your best selling product. You hone your craft or product and consistently offer that to your clients. You realize you can’t be all things to all people. Adee excels in the plumbing industry. They’re not expanding their brand to include swimwear. Do what you do best, offer that to your clients and if there’s room to expand do so in a way that makes sense to your customer. It is better to start a new business than confuse your brand in the marketplace.
Train and mentor
At some point, I think we all want to retire. Training, mentoring and grooming a successor is a must if you want your business to continue past your lifetime. You have to invest in the next generation. If you want to take that trip, tour that country, or volunteer in a third-world country, you want to leave your business to someone who shares your passion and vision. Someone you have groomed and trust to continue the company’s profitability and sustainability.
Know when to say when
For continued growth and customer satisfaction sometimes it’s better to sell your business. Things happen. If your customers have come to depend on your product and service and you’re well-planted in the community, selling to the right person can ensure the company’s longevity.
I don’t know when we’ll travel back home to L.A., but when we do, I have a good feeling that Johnny’s Pastrami will still be there ready to take my order.