“Established 1851”. “Since 1750”.
Whenever you see business insignia that indicate that the business is centuries-old, there’s a sense of reverence and awe for such an enormous achievement. Businesses that have been around for a long time are admirable especially if you consider that it is not easy to run a business, let alone, start one.
As a new entrepreneur, you perhaps wonder how this happens. What makes a business last forever? How do business owners of resilient and long-staying brands make it far? What makes for a business’s success and longevity? What characteristics must be present in a business so that it can weather challenges and mature strongly so that it can be passed on from your generation to the next?
Read a hundred business books if you must, interview successful business owners, or attend business mentoring programmes if that suits you, but you would realise that the characteristics behind successful businesses then and now have remained generally the same. This is a testament for you that just like time-old principles that never fade in terms of being applicable then and now, and in under whatever situation, establishing and running a business along these five attributes will help you cement a solid foundation and take on a concrete path for your business.
Here are the five characteristics of a lasting businesses
1. A Clear Vision
What motivates you to start a business? Is it money? Is it passion? Is it opportunity? Is it the desire to do something good for the greater society at large? Or is it all of these?
The word entrepreneur is rooted in the French word “entreprende” which means “to undertake.” People who set out to become entrepreneurs are those willing to undertake greater risks, undertake greater effort, and undertake greater pressure to be able to realise a dream – be it a passion or an innovation.
If you are building your business just because you want to escape a 9-5 day job routine or to be your own boss, or just because you have no other employment option at the moment, then clearly you are lacking the essential and fundamental characteristic of being an entrepreneur. These common “reasons” for building a business are, quite the contrary, “roadblocks” to truly becoming an entrepreneur.
If you want to build a solid business that will last a long time, you must have a higher vision, a deeper motivation for why you want to sacrifice and struggle to build your business.
2. A Smart Plan
Assuming you already have a clear vision in mind of what you would like to happen, and that you are deeply moved by the reasons you have for building your business, the next thing to devise is a smart plan. How are you going to build your business? What type of business do you want to register? Do you have the requirements to operate legally? What business name would you choose? Where will you get funding? What product or service will you offer? These are just among the hundreds of questions you need to write down and carefully consider one by one.
Go to the drawing table and map out your plan for the next 6 months, 1 year, 5, 10, 15 and 50 years. Is your business scalable? What are the risks associated with it? How can you further innovate your product or service to future-proof it amidst changing market demands and competition? If you get to answer these questions ahead, then you will also be steps ahead of the risks and vulnerabilities that will inevitably confront your business.
3. Action, Action, Action!
One of the reasons many ‘entrepreneurs’ fail is precisely because they want to be boss. The truth is, you will have to do everything at first and most of the time by yourself when you are just starting in your business. You will become the front desk receiving calls, the messenger delivering parcels, the collection officer, the sales person, the janitor who cleans the bathroom. You would be lucky to share these roles with fellow members of your board of director – but the point is, don’t think that after you have formed your company and registered your business that you can get a foot stool, a glass of pina colada, and the remote control and just have a good relaxing time watching your favourite show from a widescreen. You won’t. Starting a business means a lot of work from your part. You have to muster the courage to delay gratification even beyond your lifetime if necessary.
A business should be efficient from day 1 – that means – you should be able to accomplish more results than the resources you used for it. Your business will turn a loss on opportunities and profits if you are always operating beyond your resources – beyond what you could afford.
5. A Solid Foundation
Build your business with a solid legal foundation. The last thing you want to happen is for you to break your product or service strongly in the market only to close shop months later because the government finds that you are operating your business illegally. Do not take the legal incorporation of your business lightly – it is definitely something that you will need to do from the start of your business and at all times while your business is operational.
Fortunately for you, professional company incorporation firms offer services to help you register your business and comply with regulatory requirements to make your business operate legally at all times.
Professional company incorporation firms help you by providing advice on what type of business structure suits your business best, what business name are available, what documents are needed to register your business, and they also take care of the entire process of registering your business so that you can open shop the soonest time.
A professional incorporation firm must be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Through the BizFile+ page, the incorporation firm can help you to prepare the requirements for company incorporation such as having a Corporate Secretary, a member of the board which is a permanent resident of the country, among others (read this article to find out how to register a company in Singapore).
Haste makes waste, and that is also true when wanting to build a solid business that will create ripples of positive impacts to society. Perhaps these words from James C. Collins, author of the book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” will serve as inspiration as you prepare to build a successful business destined to withstand the test of time:
“Indeed, if there is any one “secret” to an enduring great company, it is the ability to manage continuity and change—a discipline that must be consciously practiced, even by the most visionary of companies.”
― James C. Collins, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
All the best to your entrepreneurial endeavour!