Building a Company for the Long Run? 4 Habits to Cultivate

3 minute read

As an entrepreneur, you might envision yourself working
from home, helping to groom others who are passionate about your project, or
making a certain amount of money and living the American dream. Then, there are
the entrepreneurs who dream about creating an empire, a legacy, working until
their last breath and then passing the business off to a loved one.

These are the entrepreneurs who want to build longevity
into their startup. Working towards a startup that lasts is what will give you
stability and create options down the road. In other words, longevity
should be a goal for every entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are also big risk takers, which is the enemy
of longevity. I have been battling startup longevity my whole life.
The first company that had any success only lasted 10 months. We built it
for nine months and it sold 42 days later. Success, right? It was all
right, but it wasn’t built to last. Six months later it was shut down by
the company that purchased us. This was a big blow to my ego, so I started
studying and learning what it takes to build a real startup that lasts.

Creating longevity includes four “ways of doing
business” that you should consider adopting.

1. Document, Document, Document

No matter how small or big your operation, you need to
document (in writing!) every aspect of it. This means any partnerships formed,
agreements made, operational decisions and customer service strategies in
addition to your financials. Write it down. Keeping it in your head isn’t
an option.

I made a huge mistake by not documenting things in the
past, and it hurt me. I ended up getting kicked out of a company that I
started. With my company that was successful, I documented everything. Building
longevity into your startup means that you and other key people will be there
for the long term.

2. Remember That Timing is Everything

There’s going to be one key moment just for you. It’s
kind of like putting your house up for sale. It might be the best house in the
city, but you can make more and move it faster if you wait for the right
moment. Look out for beacons, like when similar industries start growing or
there’s a big demand for what you have to offer.

Companies that are in it for the long haul plan accordingly.
They wait for the best moment and take it.

3. Put Employees First

Your employees actually come first, right alongside your
customers. They might be risk takers like you, but it’s easy to make them feel
taken advantage of. This is partly what your SOP does, since employees who know
what they’re doing are more likely to feel motivated. Celebrate their
milestones, treat them with the golden rule and you’ll enjoy
loyalty.

Our team is the most important part of my business, and
even more importantly, my life. I’m with them every day. I like putting every
employee and their needs above my own. As the boss, there may be months where
you don’t get a paycheck and they do. By putting your employees first you’re in
turn putting your company first. Founders who put their companies first are
building for long-term success. Your employees will stick around longer
and work harder, thus putting your company in a much better position to survive
for years to come.

4. Spend Money on Quality

It’s great when you score a bargain, especially in the
early days, but when quality counts you have to pony up the cash. Cutting
corners can lead to subpar quality. If spending more on materials will lead to
a better end product, your customers deserve that.

I remember in the early days of our product we cut corners, as
most startups do to be scrappy and get it done. But it ended up costing us 10x
more in the long run; we had to redo everything. Quality is something that
company leaders learn over time. Entrepreneurs in it for the long
haul learn to alway focus on quality.

You don’t want to be just a name in the one-hit wonder
startup list, yet many are. It’s easy to get sucked up into that limelight and
then get lost. Longevity breeds stability, and that’s something few startups
have.

Peter Daisyme is the co-founder
of Palo Alto, California-based 
Hosting
Inc
, a company specializing in helping businesses with hosting
their website for free, for life.

Young
Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
is
an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young
entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched
BusinessCollective, a
free virtual mentorship program.