Long running businesses

Written on November 23, 2016

There’s something to be said about long running businesses. The kind of business that have survived all their competitors and stood the test of time. Those companies that adapted to the times and made changes when change didn’t make sense to their competitors.

One of the few podcasts that I listen to regularly is, The Distance, a podcast about long running businesses that have been around for at least 25 years. The Distance has covered businesses from an old hardware shop to maple syrup business to a feminist bookstore.

With each business covered, it’s so refreshing to hear about their origin stories and how they’ve navigated through the years to endure and survive. Like the hardware shop that focused on bike repairs during a tough season to make ends meet or a pig farming family switching gears and going into the people business by running cut-your-own Christmas tree with hot chocolate at the end business.

Another podcast I recently stumbled upon is, How I Built This, on NPR. The businesses covered on this podcast aren’t always long running but they are pretty recognizable brands. Brands such as Clif Bar, Spanx and SouthWest Airlines.

One of the frequently covered topics of How I Built This is how brand names are discovered and the meanings behind them. I’ve always found it tough to discover names when creating a project. So it was pretty cool that Clif Bar was named after the founder’s father, Clifford, who introduced him to adventures in the wilderness.

Or Spanx originally came from the word Spanks. Which Sara Blakely chose because she had learned that a trade secret amongst comedians is the use of the K sound in words that draws laughter.

Even the two businesses that produce these excellent podcasts are interesting companies that have a long running history. Basecamp, that produces The Distance, is an Internet business that has been around since 1999 and NPR, that produces How I Built This has been around since the 1970s. I think it’d be neat if they interviewed each other for each other’s podcast.

If you’re looking for a couple of podcasts that cover businesses, I highly recommend listening to The Distance or How I Built This. The stories are engaging and there are a wealth of lessons that can be learned about how these businesses have lasted for so long. I’ve come to admire businesses with longevity and the stories covered in these podcasts are definitely inspirational.

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