You might have designs for your business to be around for a long time, but could you ever conceive of it outliving you by centuries?
For one seventeenth century scissor-maker in China named Zhang Jiasi that’s exactly what happened, because the fruits of his labour are still very much alive today. The Hangzhou Zhang Xiaoquan Company that was founded by his son in 1663 has outlived entire dynasties and even survived “voluntary nationalisation” by the Chinese government.
“You had to volunteer,” Zhang Qian tells me. “I wasn’t even born then so I can’t say I’m regretful, but surely my life would be different now if history had been different.”
Unfortunately this means that the direct descendant of Zhang is restricted to an administrative role, but who knows – maybe if the political situation in China changes again in the future perhaps her descendants will one day once again have full control of the business.