Longevity in business

By: Sarah Dew Whitsett

If you are like most folks, when you hear ‘longevity in business’ you are thinking 15, 20 or maybe even 50 years in business. 

Those numbers are to be applauded because as we all know, owning and running a business is not for the faint of heart. 

It is for the adventurer, the trail blazer, and the brave.

And if you are reading this you are all of the above and more. 

So while we are all thinking about what we could do in 50 years of business, I ask you to take a big step back and ask yourself, “What could this business do for generations? What could this business do for your family for generations?”

A society grows great when we plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. 
~ Chinese Proverb

So often people think of their business as a way to make money that gives them more flexility than a job. 

I ask you to look closer at this statement. 

Is that true? Your company is so much more than that. It has the potential to grow into an asset that creates money, jobs, for you, your family, and everyone who works for it, for generations. 

Not only that but the values that inspired you to start out on this adventure will continue to be shared with the world well beyond your life time. 

When people talk about being an influencer they talk about market impact, followers, and revenue. 

I’m talking about creating generations of influence. That is what I mean when I say legacy. 

This is not meant to be overwhelming, to the contrary, to be inspiring! You don’t need to know how to do this but we should be talking about it. I’m interested in changing the conversations we are having together, let’s talk about real wealth and legacy among business owners.

The truth is, for most of us, if we stopped working our business would stop along with the money. 

This is the same thing that would happen if you had a job. If you stop working eventually you will not be paid. 

This is not security.

The first step is to acknowledge that your business may very well be your biggest asset. Bigger than your house, bigger than your retirement savings. 

Your house doesn’t have the ability to pay you dividends for years. In fact, you are probably just using it as a savings account with the potential (not guaranteed) to sell for a higher price.

Your company has the ability to continually pay dividends to you and your family for generations, or to sell it someday for a large sum. 

I always cringe a bit at the short sightedness of people who look down on business owners as if they should “just get a job.”

I think that many business owners are short sighted as well if they are not growing their business with longevity in mind. It’s like working your life away with only the goal of a pay check. Since most made the leap into entrepreneurship to get away from that mentality. The irony is not lost on me. 

Now, if you just read this and are thinking, um my little business? Sarah, you are nuts. 

I disagree. One of my core beliefs is that everything is figure-out-able. 

If you have the desire and the nerve to build it with real wealth and longevity in mind. It can be done. 

And in my experience, the simple reframe of your business as your biggest asset, along with the desire, can change the relationship you have with your company. All of a sudden you’ll have energy and life surging through you to build it like you give a damn. 


Sarah is cofounder and strategist at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. She’s all action and no beating around the bush. A former intensive care unit nurse, if you look closely, you’ll see her continuing to run triage in her work with clients now. It’s in her bones. Sarah’s ears are tuned to the efficient and effective use of time, money, and effort, and which actions need to be taken in which order to get the result you want.

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