Q: How do I build a business that will last for decades?
A: With very few exceptions, the answer to this question is the same for any small business, whether it’s looking to cash out in 50 months or 50 years. And it’s not really about costs; it’s about the structure of the business. Costs will flow naturally and efficiently out of a sound structure.
Many public companies operate shortsightedly, pumping up their quarterly numbers to boost their stock prices, with sometimes disastrous long-term results. A business with an owner who measures growth and progress in years, not months, is a much easier ship to steer.
Follow this basic checklist to increase your chances of growing for years to come–assuming, of course, that people want the product you’re selling.
Establish strong financial controls. Doing so produces solid information for decision-making and reduces the risk of theft and fraud. Put simply, until you know where every penny’s going, your business isn’t on sound footing.
Minimize distractions. As a CFO, I’ve seen firsthand how an owner, freed from daily worries over cash flow, can successfully concentrate on the future–building relationships, developing new products and services and overseeing other big-picture issues. Hire trustworthy and smart people to handle the details. They’re worth it.
Increase sales. Obvious? Yes, but never forget that a larger company is inherently less risky than a smaller one.