Could your business run for six centuries?

Could your business run for six centuries?

My recent city break in Tallinn, Estonia, gave me much to think about. As we wandered through the Medieval Old Town we came across one of the oldest continuously running pharmacies in Europe. Not only is the business still going six centuries after it was founded, but it’s still using the same premises.

600+ years of success

That’s an incredible achievement I’m sure you’ll agree, and can’t have been an accident. To continue to run a business for more than 600 years in the same place has taken planning, foresight and no small amount of strategy.

What’s even more unbelievable is that the business was run by the same family, the Burcharts, from 1582 to 1911. Ten generations of the family were involved in running the pharmacy, and it was the fourth generation son who finally managed to buy the premises from the town council, which had been leased until that point.

How future proof is your business?

Could your business run for six centuries? And what can we learn from this amazing enterprise?

To create a sustainable business needs a robust business plan. The first Burchart to run the pharmacy, Johann, was a Hungarian immigrant and started the tradition of naming the first born son of each generation Johann and handing them the business.

I’m not suggesting you go that far, but if yours is a family business, have you thought about how to hand it over in good shape and what plans you need in place to support the next generation? What is your strategy and is it supported by clear plans for all of the key aspects of the business?

If handing on your business isn’t your goal, do you have a clear exit strategy? Can your business be run without you in order that it has value to someone else? And is your proposition clear and attractive to potential buyers?

Adapt your offering

Regardless of your end-game another lesson from the pharmacy is about long-term demand. Are you operating in a market that has long-term viability? Will you need to adapt and change, or is there likely to always be demand for your product or service?

Clearly Johann saw that people would always need medicines and cures, but throughout the generations the family ensured the success of their business by undertaking additional training, with many qualifying as doctors.

What other things could you do with your business that are complementary and will add to its sustainability? And like Johann IV, what are you doing to ensure its long-term success right now?

If you’re uncertain what your next steps are, how your business copes when it occasionally hits a bump in the road or how to build a sustainable business or one that gives you a suitable exit, you need to understand what is holding you back.

Running a business is tough and without the right plan, the right support and the right focus, it’s easy to become trapped. When you get to this stage, you often feel overwhelmed, stuck or uncertain as a business owner. Discover which one of four areas of your business is trapping you and how you can achieve the freedom to choose where, when and how you work.

Take our Business Trap Diagnosis test here:

Could your business run for six centuries?