Transaction Support

What’s the Secret to Business Longevity?

Posted on February 6, 2019 by

Jim Biehl

Jim Biehl

Share This

Have you ever wondered how some companies last for generations while others fade into obsolescence? In the firm’s long history of working with closely-held businesses, several shared traits among companies reaching the 50-year mark and beyond have proven to be a success time and again.

Business Longevity Tips

Observing established companies functioning as finely tuned machines, while welcoming change, it’s clear that these principles foster the longevity of industry leaders.

  1. Proactive vs. Reactive – Longstanding businesses are forward thinking and employ some form of strategic planning that allows the team to “aim for the same tree on the horizon.” Decision making is aligned and a shared mission is embraced and clearly communicated. An overarching consistency to these companies is that they are nimble enough to adapt to change and they embrace innovation.
  2. Customer Obsessed – They have intimate knowledge of what their customers need and want; especially innovative customers who are at the most risk of leaving. They anticipate customer needs and pay attention to business and societal trends.
  3. Believe that Structure = Discipline – They implement simple processes, procedures and policies which are extremely effective in forcing the business to maintain the daily, weekly, monthly and annual discipline required to execute their plans.
  4. Value Outside Input – Leadership seeks input from those outside the organization, including customers, suppliers, business and legal advisors, and other stakeholders.  In addition, management looks specifically for advisors who will hold them accountable to their plans. Leaders also take on individual self-improvement and knowledge enhancement; for example, participating in CEO round tables or engaging a business coach.
  5. Cultivate Talent – The organizations make a significant investment in recruiting and retaining the right talent, including a consistent investment in the professional education and advancement of the team.
  6. Build a Culture of Trust – They understand and live their core values and are committed to—and even obsessed with—only adding team members that fit their culture.
  7. Fiscally Focused/Consistently Re-Invest in the Business – Despite its obviousness, these businesses clearly understand where and how they make money. They monitor leading indicators and metrics to insure a path to profitability. They know their financial position and maintain fiscal awareness and responsibility. They subscribe to the mantra: “Cash is king; don’t ever run out of it.”
  8. Maintain and Communicate a Business Succession Plan – No one is left to wonder where the business is going. Companies with a strong history utilize strategies such as a redemption or buy-sell agreements with life insurance to ease the transition should a traumatic event occur. Partners and owners agree to a buy-out price or valuation methodology, such as a third-party valuation report, rather than leaving it up to chance.
  9. Family Businesses “That Make the Difficult Decision” – It’s especially true in successful family-owned businesses that there is an understanding and discussion of which family member will lead the next generation.  Management by committee is difficult to execute, especially with family dynamics.

One of the most gratifying aspects of serving seasoned companies is to advise and watch the trajectory of their success.  It’s like having a front row seat to business history and it never gets old.  To learn more about Clayton & McKervey and our specialization of working with middle-market business owners, contact

Continue the Conversation

Clayton & McKervey is a full-service certified public accounting and business advisory firm helping closely held businesses compete in the global marketplace. The firm is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout the world.  To learn more, visit

Share This

Jim Biehl

Shareholder, Manufacturing & Distribution

Leading the firm’s manufacturing & distribution group, Jim has built a reputation for providing strategic tax, accounting and operational support to owners.

Related Insights

Business Valuation: Why The Multiple Matters

As a business owner, it is easy to become fixated on profit, the lifeblood of any business. It pays the bills, keeps the lights on and puts food on the table. But profit is not the only number that matters when it comes to the value of your business. In fact, there is another number that can be just as important as profit: the multiple. 

by Bryan Powrozek

The Definitive Guide to Business Transaction Basics

Even if your business isn’t for sale yet, knowing what’s involved in a business transaction and understanding what buyers value most is a great way to ensure your business can receive the best valuation possible.

by Bryan Powrozek

7 Ways to Increase Business Value Even When You’re Not for Sale

The most reliable way to get top dollar for your business is to start managing value early. There are time-tested ways for owners to protect and boost the value of a business long before a sale is on the horizon. Keep reading to explore seven areas where you can start maximizing business value now. 

by Tim Hilligoss

The Sound of Automation Podcast

Industrial automation businesses are the driving force behind Industry 4.0, and Clayton & McKervey is here to help.

Skip to content