Reaching 100 years old is an achievement for any human, but it’s apparently an even bigger accomplishment for a business.
Research by Richard Foster, a Yale School of Management professor and co-author of the book “Creative Destruction,” found that the average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company fell from 61 years half a century ago to just 18 years by 2010.
What’s gone wrong? Companies make common mistakes that lead them to failure, management experts say: Holding on to once-profitable business models too long (think Kodak or Blockbuster), failing to innovate, and not paying enough attention to their customers’ preferences and needs. “It’s not uncommon for companies, particularly companies that are having success with a particular product, to get enamored with it,” says Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate Institute. They “milk it so long that they forget to create tomorrow soon enough.”
Here’s a look at five well-known U.S. companies that have survived more than a century, and how experts say they beat the odds: