Can a business grow old?
Recently, I binged on a list of the oldest businesses in the world. As I dug deeper, a few odd-facts struck me.✔️ Over HALF of businesses over 200 years old are in Japan.
✔️ Construction, breweries, wineries, restaurants, hotels, industrial & manufacturing dominated the list.
✔️ As a die-hard B2B guy, I had *zero* experience working in any of those industries or disciplines.
Since I'm rapidly approaching my 15-year ‘chip’ in running agencies & consultancies, I had hoped to uncover some insights on adjusting my company’s trajectory into something more lasting. You don’t see 10x multiplier acquisitions or unicorn-labels in my space.
65% of businesses founded in the same year as mine (2009) have already failed. But working with a team of intellectual bandits comes with a lot of reality checks, including checking my survivorship bias. The statistics show that my crew has a less than 25% chance of surviving through next year.
So, I widened my search to not-quite-legitimate businesses and found the Yakuza. Informally founded in Japan in the 1600’s, this criminal organization could be deemed the oldest B2B ‘company’ in history. The Yakuza were the first B2B 'bandits'.Here’s the sneak preview on the 5-part series.
- from the sake ceremony, to the unwavering loyalty to their Ninkyo (code), businesses can incorporate ritual to form longer, deeper relationships.
- the family structure of the Yakuza, and the layered military organization of their gangs and ‘freelance’ businesses, can be adapted to modern-day B2B org’s.
- the Yakuza has exercised a remarkable level of flexibility in spite of their size, competing syndicates and unpredictable political shifts.
- I know of few people in the B2B world that can sit across from a staunch, evil competitor, and forge a peace or alliance. Yakuza bosses are experts.
- from their full body tattoos, to the tailored suits, the Yakuza know personal branding. The B2B world works so hard to look different, when a uniform might be the best play.
*** If you knew your business could survive for generations, what would you do differently today to cement that future? ***