I’m guessing that at least half of the companies I’ve turned into Whale Hunters are 20 years old or older. And among those, almost all are family businesses, many in their second generation of leadership, and a few even into the third generation! Others are still being led by the founder, but of those I’ve often found younger generation family members in the company’s employ, many working their way up to leadership.
I unearthed some statistics about company longevity rates. Between 29-34% of American businesses make it to 10 years. 26% make it to 15 years. Only 7% make it to 25 years.
For family-owned businesses, 30% make it to the second generation, 10-15% to the third, and only 3-5% to the fourth generation.
That’s why I’m suggesting that if your company is 10 years old or older, or if your family business is into the second or third generation of leadership, it’s something to brag about to your customers and prospects. In fact, it might be something to build your next brand campaign around!
You know how often I write about big companies being afraid to do business with small companies and all the ways you need to alleviate their fears in order to close a big deal with a big customer. Well, having been in business a comparatively long time will do wonders to relieve their anxiety.
Big companies are afraid that a small company can’t handle their demands. They fear that they may take you down. They worry that you don’t understand the risk you are undertaking. They wonder if your lack of good processes will cause them much more work and hardship.
But if you’ve been around for years, they’ll assume you’ve been there, done that. You can’t accidentally be in business for twenty-five years. Obviously, your company has done many things right and has been through a number of transitions more or less successfully–at least they turned out all right in the end even if there were bumps in the road.
Here’s an example of how one company marked their twenty-five year anniversary in 2001:
“We are extremely proud of our long, successful history,” says Kurtis M. Ruf, vice president of sales and marketing for Ruf Strategic Solutions. “Only 7 percent of all businesses in the U.S. have been in business for 25 years or more. In our industry, database marketing, less than 3.5 percent of the businesses have been in business for as long as Ruf Strategic Solutions. Our longevity is proof that the services and solutions we provide to our clients has truly enhanced their marketing efforts and helped them become successful. We are truly gratified to know that we provide a tremendous value to our clients. In our industry, as in so many others,
experience does count.”
So I believe longevity is a terrific brand differentiator, one that few of your competitors will be able to claim. The claim that longevity equals customer success is a hard one to refute.