4 Keys to Business Longevity

2016 marks BDFs 30 year anniversary.  As any small business owner knows, longevity and building a lasting legacy is difficult to accomplish and does not happen without hard work, commitment and a little luck along the way. For many small businesses, success can be driven by focusing on a few key areas: taking care of your Clients, Your People, Your Business and Yourself.

1. Clients – retaining clients is a key to any successful business. How do you keep clients seeing the value in the services or products you provide? Being prepared to address the questions “Do I need this/want this?”, “Can I afford it?” and “Do I understand and trust it?” will go a long way in keeping clients happy and satisfied with your value proposition.

2. The Business – Maintaining a strong balance sheet and income statement is a key to any businesses success as poor cash flow management is one of the biggest factors that cause businesses to fail. In addition, it’s important to recognizing that “the only constant is change” as a successful growing business is often times a series of multiple year increments of being an evolving and changing company.  Operational efficiency is also an important area of focus and having effective and consistently adopted processes and procedures are critical.  Finally, all business owners understand the time, energy and costs that go into hiring and onboarding a new employee. Hiring and retaining the right team members is critically important.

3. Your People – Hiring the right people is only one part of the process; keeping your people engaged is the real key to business longevity. Studies show that once people earn a “competitive” wage, commitment to the organization is dictated more by the company culture. This includes your team feeling as though someone “cares” about them, having access to the proper tools and resources to be successful at their job with opportunities to advance, and working in an environment that is comfortable and offers an appropriate amount of flexibility and autonomy. One way to excel in employee retention is to establish core values that include treating your team members as one of your most important and critical resources and building a culture that allows them to thrive and enjoy their work.

4. Yourself – Maintaining a proper work/life balance is not only important for staying energized and happy, it is also important for personal health. Studies show that humans operate efficiently for 10 hours a day at the most and that assumes sleeping well at night (for 7-8 hours), eating right and exercising regularly. Working efficiently is the best way to extract the most out of your typical work week. Focusing on prioritizing your work by tackling the “tough” things first, delegating properly, not obsessing over the unimportant details, and learning to “let go” will allow for a much higher level of production and freeing up more time. This will allow you to spend more time with your family, enjoying hobbies, or finding ways you can be working ON your business vs IN your business.

As we reflect back over the past 30 years, we could not be prouder of the firm we have built and are humbled by our clients’ trust and our teams’ devotion which has propelled us to where we are today. With hard work, commitment, and a little luck along the way, we look forward to taking care of our Clients, our People, our Business and Ourselves for many more years to come.


John D. Smith, CFP® is a Wealth Manager at BDF. A member of the Business Owner Team, he is adept at helping business owners integrate their unique business opportunities and risks into their personal wealth management plan, due to his 20+ years of experience. He finds that business owners, in particular, are often so focused on making sure that their business operations are running smoothly, they may overlook their personal financial well-being. John received his Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Counseling and Planning from Purdue University. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association, sits on the parent advisory board for St Benedict Preparatory School in Chicago, and is a member of the University Club of Chicago.