Tips for Business Longevity

Not only does Marin have the healthiest residents in all of California, it also has some of the healthiest businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, only about a third of all new establishments nationwide survive 10 years or more. We’d like to congratulate our neighbors who are also celebrating a decade of serving Marin residents. Read below to find out learn about their tips for longevity.

Terra Patio

1. Know your customer and continuously strive to find more ways to create value for them. For Terra Patio, we have created an avatar called Deb. Deb is a very busy woman. She often shops on the Internet, has 1.5 children, and has no time for mistakes or problems. She places a premium on working with businesses she can trust. She loves shopping local, but they have to get it right: quality products, fresh designs, good service, and a no pressure consultive sales staff. For the last 10 years, I have learned our job is to listen to Deb and deliver her an extraordinary shopping experience.

2. Create a company that cherishes people at its core. We engage our employees in everything from our furniture designs to business plans because they love it and it works. Once a year, we have a design meeting where team members present product ideas, then our employees give feedback and select from the best ideas for future products. We not only engage our employees, but also work to understand their dreams and aspirations. Last year at our company retreat, we had each of our team members list their five top bucket list items. We heard everything from dreams of being a grandfather to taking the fishing trip of a lifetime in Alaska. We then take their lists, memorialize them and support our team to achieve them. By caring not only about our company, but also about the aspirations of our employees, we develop an inspired and dedicated team. 

3. Develop a vivid vision of what you would like your company to look like in the next three- to- five years, then enlist your team members to help you to continuously craft and move this vision forward. Every year, our managers work together to create a business plan that is our roadmap for the future. At the heart of these plans are always our core values. Crafted by our employees, our core values guide everything we do from our mission statement to our trainings and the quality employees we hire. 

4. Create a strong culture, give it a powerful vision, empower your employees, and you’ll have an extraordinary company.

Iron Springs Brewery

1. Patience-don’t sweat the small stuff

2. Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. To be successful, one really needs to know where every dollar gets spent. By watching the bottom line and reducing waste, profits will increase.

3. Repairs and maintenance-knowing how to maintain, and service every piece of equipment this business has, which is quite a bit with the 3 different departments. 

Throckmorton Theatre

1. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to question the answers.

2. Push the envelope. It’s the only way to keep the creativity flowing. 

3. Enjoy yourself. It’s highly contagious. 

Three Twins Ice Cream

1. Always remember that cash is king and avoid spending money where you don’t have to. Starting a business is about being thrifty, smart and flexible. There will be plenty of stormy days before you see the sun, and building a business from the ground up is all about taking it one day at a time.  

2. Find inspiration in what makes you happy. For me, ice cream was nostalgic and sparked childhood memories of my mom making fresh orange sorbet in our kitchen during hot summer days. I started with a simple idea and a simple foundation. As Three Twins grew, I was able to evolve the business model and grow the brand into what it is today.

3. Give back! Since day one, Three Twins has had a strong giving model and in 2011 we started our own innovative land conservation initiative called Ice Cream for Acres. Through the program we donate to land preservation efforts around the globe. With the purchase of every Three Twins product we save at least six square feet of land.


1. If I knew it was going to be this hard, I probably would never have started the business…Sometimes, ignorance is bliss – The take away:  just do it.

2. That being said, the next lesson I learned was managing my expectations and never giving up. There were seasons where we were just barely profitable at year-end with all the expenses and inventory. There were times that I had to cut my own pay to be able to meet pay roll at months end. The factory owner once asked me if I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I told him, I didn’t expect to see or find light in the tunnel and I don’t know where is the end. I need to generate my own light all of the time. The light within, when all the light was gone, provides the vision to keep me going.  

3. Always keep the customers’ needs and wants close at heart when pursuing any business activities and planning. The purpose of the business is to fill a need and want of the customers and the market. The customers are the reason that we are relevant.  

4. Quality! Quality! Quality!! I believe the customers are smarter than we give them credit for.  

EO (20 years!)

1. Importance of long-term vision, and staying true each step along the way. We choose to manufacture because we can engage at a deep level with the things we create. Our values are embedded in our actions on a daily basis. We love this.

2. We’ve learned that our business succeeds when it’s humanized. Lifestyle is our driving factor. That’s why we chose Marin because we wanted to operate our business around how we want to live, not the other way around. If we put ourselves and other people first, then we are always happy with our choices. Standard business motivations like profitability are not the driving force, whereas living well is. That’s what sustainability is in the sense of longevity. Our work energizes us, it does not deplete us. We are truly interested and inspired by the things we are creating. We love to create. This is another driving force. We enjoy being deeply engaged with the process, and it shows up in the quality and integrity of our products. It’s like being a craftsman or any type of artisanal pastime—the art of creating something of lasting quality and beauty is regenerative.

3. We’ve learned that our business is the perfect place for spiritual practice. Be present, be mindful, be compassionate, and do things with conscious intention. Integrate the masculine and feminine within you.  We have become better humans along the way.

Kasia Pawlowska

Kasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include travel, trends, mushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is never-ending.