It’s every business owner’s dream to build a strong company and an impactful brand that will last through the years. Of course, that’s often easier said than done. From adapting to technological changes to pivoting your product to re-organizing your operations, your company will no doubt face calls for transformation throughout the years. So in this climate of disruption and reinvention, how do we keep the integrity of our businesses in tact?

Make sure that the true identity of the company stays. A company’s mission should stand the test of time.

At Huntington, we go to great lengths to ensure that our mission of providing every student with the best education possible is what informs and directs every decision that we make in our business. Whenever considering a new initiative or moving into a new region, we always ask: how does this support our core mission? It is critical to us that our message and mission is shared and rallied around across our entire business operation. It’s what keeps us inspired and focused each and every day.

Be intentional with growth. Slow and steady is a better longer-term strategy – even though rapid growth can seem more appealing.

Although Huntington now boasts a network of 300+ franchise locations across the country, that milestone certainly didn’t happen overnight. Our expansive growth has been a focused, concerted effort over the years, and one which required careful planning and execution. We take so many factors into consideration when engaging with a potential new franchisee – we look at the regional market, we look at the franchisee’s background and why they want to join the organization, etc. We want to be 100% sure that when we open a new center, we can truly provide value to the community and deliver on our promises. Sometimes that means delaying entering a new region, or even closing a center that may not be living up to our core values.

Allow your culture to evolve.

While some areas of your business, like your core mission, should remain consistent, it’s important to embrace change and adapt when you need to. Two areas where we’ve tried to adapt within our culture are collaboration and sustainability. Over time, we’ve realized that enabling our employees to collaborate and work together informally is a great way to uncover ideas and innovation in an organic way.  We recently took a look around our headquarters and identified spaces that were underutilized, turning underused office spaces into shared workspaces that would provide opportunity for employees to connect. Adapting culture can also be as simple as changing small things that align with your employees’ values. For example, we recently made a change to healthier snacks and switched out plastic straws to an environmentally-friendly version. It may sound small, but these subtle changes remove the stale, infuse the fresh, and are a great way to keep employees happy and engaged.  

As technology evolves, don’t let your face-to-face or in-person time decrease.

There are so many fantastic technological tools and advances that have made how we interact with one another in the workplace so much easier – email, Slack, Google Hangouts, video conferences, etc. – which mean you hardly ever have to leave your desk or phone in order to get things done. Even with all this progress, it’s important to keep in mind that face-to-face contact is still the most efficient way to work. Often, having an in-person conversation can save hours of back-and-forth via email, can help employees work through complex issues more efficiently, and can go a long way to build up trust and collaboration company-wide.

Although adapting your business for the future is key to long-term success, don’t forget the reason you started! Staying grounded and true to your mission will help make everything fall into place and last.


  • Anne Huntington Sharma

    President and Board Member, Huntington Learning Center

    Anne Huntington Sharma is the President and a Board Member of Huntington Learning Center, the nation's leading tutoring and test prep provider. Anne oversees business strategy and growth initiatives, including partnerships, marketing, digital and technological transformation, and franchise development.  Anne is involved in the arts as a collector, producer, philanthropist, curator, and founder of AMH Industries, a creative agency for contemporary art and culture. She is an associate producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary, 'The Price of Everything’ and an associate producer on the documentary ‘The Art of Making It’. To date, Anne has curated more than 30 exhibits across the country and raised over $30 million for various philanthropic causes. Additionally, Anne is active with arts, education, and business organizations. She is a board member for the Learning Disabilities Association of America, Art Advisory Board member for NYC’s Coalition for the Homeless, member of the Women’s Franchise Committee for the International Franchise Association, member of the International Director’s Council at the Guggenheim Museum, and a founding member of the Future Leadership Council at the Whitney Museum. For her service, Anne has been recognized by SmartCEO, Apollo Magazine, and Moves Magazine. She has also been honored as a Woman of Wonder by Franchise Dictionary Magazine, named to the NJBIZ Education Top 50 list, as well as the NJBIZ 40 under 40. Most recently, Anne was named one of NJBIZ’s Best 50 Women in Business and was awarded the Silver distinction for the American Business Awards, Maverick category. Anne received her BA from Colgate University.