Business World

“3 Hints” Series: Companies and “Long Lifespan”

27 July 2015

As the original texts are written in Turkish, English translation is provided for non-Turkish readers. The author apologizes in advance for any and all possible changes and losses in meaning due to translation.

In 2016 we will celebrate Siemens’s 160 years presence in Turkey. The company was founded in 1847 in Germany and only 9 years after its foundation, started to operate in then ‘the Ottoman Empire’. And we know that everything started with a dream and vision at the beginning of this company which now operates around the world. Of course every entrepreneur sets off with a dream: To see that the entity it creates succeeds and to legate the enterprise/company to the next generation (i.e. children) and even to the generations beyond that. In other words, to create an enterprise that has a long lifespan. At this point, a phrase by Werner von Siemens, the founder of Siemens AG, comes to my mind: “I won’t sell the future of my company for a short-term profit.” But then, is it that easy? What should be the fundamental concerns for establishing a company with a long lifespan? Certainly, there are a number of concerns to be handled. However, I would summarize the most critical ones in the three hints series:

  • Building trust in all stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, etc.)
  • Creating a “company spirit” and synchronizing it with the “zeitgeist” (spirit of the time)
  • Doing what nobody else has done

You may, of course, say “Easier said than done! What should we consider while running this marathon in order to reach the goal?” I believe that the meaning of “building trust” is very clear, but it is vital that this principle is always kept in mind as a priority: If your way of doing business does not establish trust in the people you serve (i.e. your customers), it would be hard to see the next few years, let alone decades. Therefore, first of all, “trust” should be built in the people and the environment that you operate in, even though this may sometimes mean self-sacrifice.

Now that we have a reliable company and a reliable brand, what is next? Your company and brand should have a “spirit” that can be felt both inside and outside and that is constantly fed. Be it your employees or customers, this “spirit” should be clearly seen and felt by everyone working with you. The way to feed and grow the spirit, to keep it alive is to synchronize it with the “zeitgeist” and innovations. Awareness of your fundamental competencies and knowing what you are really good at should always remain, but with no fear of change and improvement of it in line with the zeitgeist and requirements of the time.

One does not need to be a clairvoyant to see that the future belongs not to the followers but to the pioneers. Therefore, one last thing I would like to emphasize is the “need to achieve something that has not been done before – to develop a brand-new product or business model.” There is one thing that I cannot underline enough: Should we create revolutionary innovations or evolutionary ones? Innovation is built by people – you, me, an engineering or international relations undergraduate, a conscious farmer who wants to use his land more efficiently, etc. If you are doing something that has not been done before, it means you are at the doorstep of a “revolution”. Countless people who want to have access to your product, service, solution or idea will be waiting at that door to carry you to the future. And remember that an enterprise, brand or company that has built trust, created its own spirit and fulfilled the requirements of its time will still have a “long, long way” to go. We should never forget that the same applies to our country, not only to companies or brands. Therefore, let’s all continue to work for long-term success, without ever losing faith in our country. (

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