A few years ago on Tabitha’s Answers on Aging radio show, we welcomed Phil Stephens to talk about leading his family-owned business, Bob Stephens & Associates. The specialty advertising company has been around since the 1950s. In the business world, that kind of longevity is rare. So how to businesses embrace their own aging journey?

Like Bob Stephens & Associates, Tabitha has been around a long time. We were founded in 1886, yep, over 130 years. There’s a lot of aging that’s done in 130 years. When Rev. Henry Heiner founded us, we were an orphanage, a home for those in the community who needed us most. Today, we’re committed to the other end of the aging spectrum, caring for seniors with an Elder Care continuum. Here are our lessons for embracing the aging journey as a business.

Stay true to mission

Tabitha’s mission has always been rooted in Christian compassion. Founded by a reverend and a member of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), we have made this aspect a center point in our mission. Yes, the focus of that Christian compassion has changed. We no longer are a home for orphans, but the overall motivation behind what we do is the same today as it was 130 years ago. Quite simply, we show Christian compassion towards those in need of our care.

As an aging business, you need to have a consistent mission - one that will age and grow with the changing times. Take a look at your own organization’s mission. What pieces of it will be applicable in 20, 50 or even 130 years? Look at those pieces that are long-lasting and make them front and center. As times change and business goals adjust, make sure those core mission pieces are always being upheld.

Answer the needs of the community/consumers

In 1886, Tabitha was a home for children and others in the community who were in need. Slowly, more and more Elders required assistance and Tabitha began to make homes for them, providing the nursing care they required. In the 1960s, orphanages became obsolete, replaced with foster care system. At that time, Tabitha began to care for Elders exclusively, answering the community’s need for a home care program. Then, eventually offering the state’s first hospice program and building innovative new residential-style homes for Elders who need skilled care.

Phew! We’ve been through a lot of changes in 130 years! But change is needed in business. The needs of the community, of consumers are constantly changing. How can your organization grow with those changes? What adjustments can be made while holding true to your core mission? At Tabitha, we no longer care for children as Rev. Henry Heiner did, but we still serve those who need us in the community with Christian compassion.

Don’t forget about market studies. Take time to learn about your market and where it’s going. Those studies will help your business embrace it’s own aging journey.

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