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The 100 Year Family

Can a family last 100 years?

A few years ago, Inc. Magazine ran an article titled: “How to Build a Company that Will be Around in 2115 (October 2015).  The premise of the article focused on how in the current age most companies are positioned to sell.  Investors are willing to put up big money if they can count on a profitable exit.

But the question of exit is often the first one.  The business owner who bucks the trend and wants to grow a company and hold it is outside the norm.  Grow, hold and live off the fruit of the tree. These grow and hold companies are called evergreen companies.

Traits of these companies include a focus on culture, people and values.  There’s a relentless quest for purpose, including the pivotal question of “Why am I building this business?”  Yet this grow and hold philosophy is marked by a loneliness—few want to pursue this road and opt for quicker gratification.

As I read this article, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity to those who want an enduring family legacy—100 years or more.  To get there, there must be a focus on family culture—family identity.  The family must know who they are, what they stand for, what they value.  Their purpose cannot be just the “fun” of being a family but there must also be a reason for being—impact.  It used to be that impact might be measured by crops, fruit of the vineyard, but it could also be in areas of art, law or medicine.  Family is not meant to be a selfish endeavor.

But the road of the enduring family is lonely.  Most don’t think this way.  Exit is too easy, and we think too much of our own self gain.  Perhaps, the lesson of the 100 year business is the lesson we should be seeking to apply to our families today?

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously: » Learn More

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