Entrepreneurs often believe that building a company is a full-speed sprint to a short-term goal, mostly because they don't have a long-term vision. This lack of vision could make you one of the eight out of ten entrepreneurs who crash and burn within the first eighteen months. It's not too late to silence the noise and create a sustainable business model like this one.

One hundred and twenty years ago, Marie Kirkland of Council Bluffs, Iowa, put an ad in a local newspaper asking women to meet to plan a "social." She wanted to build an organization that would empower women to be the best they could be in a time when women were not supposed to be educated, conduct business, own life insurance, vote, or assume leadership roles in the community. Eight women responded to her ad. By 1895, Royal Neighbors was one of the first organizations to insure women. Today it remains one of the largest women-led insurers, with nearly 180,000 members.

Although she built her company in an entirely different era, Kirkland knew that she needed a well-defined company culture if she were to build a business that lasts. I find that too many entrepreneurs don't place enough importance on developing values, vision, and culture. Yet without them, you may never have a viable business model. So stop, breathe, and consider these fundamental keys to long-term success.

1. Develop and communicate your vision.

As Kirkland's social circle evolved, the women became aligned with a unified vision designed to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. That foundation has remained well intact as Royal Neighbors grew beyond its life insurance offerings. Today they provide member benefits that include scholarship opportunities, health and retail discounts, and participation in volunteer activities that give back to communities through the organization's local chapters, all of which help women achieve their goals.

2. Build a collaborative environment.

By 1905 Royal Neighbors was one of the only insurers in the U.S. to have an all-female sales force. Since then they have developed their womenLEAD program to collaborate and work hands-on with their independent female agents. "Through these collaborative efforts we teach our agents about Royal Neighbors and its history," says Cynthia Tidwell, the company's president and CEO. "But we also cover business basics such as creating a marketing plan, increasing their social media presence, and improving their prospecting techniques."

3. Stay relevant.

Some things change quickly in today's world, some not fast enough. Either way your product or service needs to stay relevant to the needs and desires of today's customer and employee alike. Royal Neighbors was founded at a time when women were not allowed to vote or own property. Today, studies indicate that women and men are nearly equal in numbers when they enter a profession, but only 8 percent of women make it to the top executive roles. There are a variety of reasons that women fall off along the way but Tidwell focuses on helping women expand their capabilities. "That means being willing to take some risks," she says. "If you always do what you've always done, you are not going to reach your potential."

4. Give back to the community.

"Our Nation of Neighbors Program is a nomination initiative for women with a dream, but need a little help financially," says Tidwell. The program has helped women provide transitional housing for other women and their families, establish a maternity home for homeless teens, fight sex trafficking, and create anti-bullying and self-esteem programs. "Approximately $100,000 in grants is available this year," says Tidwell. The nomination process is underway now--more than $1.7 million has been distributed since the program was launched in 2007.

5. Innovate.

Illness, especially cancer, is not only a terrifying experience, but one that threatens financial devastation. To address this issue for the 60 percent of the workforce women represent, the company created a suite of products consisting of a whole life insurance policy and a cancer waiver of premium rider. The waiver is designed to protect women under 60 if they are diagnosed with cervical, ovarian, or breast cancer at Stage II or higher. This rider waives premiums for two years and eliminates the worry of making life insurance payments so that valuable energy and resources can be used on what's really important--getting well and spending time with loved ones.

6. Change course as needed.

You probably launched your company intending it to look and feel a certain way, with very specific offerings. Entrepreneurs are often surprised a year or two down the road when they realize their their product has evolved into something they didn't even see coming; often serving a different audience entirely. Just as Royal Neighbors has done with their programs and product offerings, always be poised to pivot as both you and the environment evolve.

7. Inspire others.

"It doesn't matter whether a woman is an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home mom, or a widow trying to survive on her own, the core issues are the same," says Tidwell. "Women need to know their worth, take steps to understand and improve their financial status, and be properly insured so that in the event something happens to them, their family's financial needs will be addressed." With a mindset of whom can I help today, Royal Neighbors currently has 261 chapters nationwide that work within their own communities on a grassroots level. These chapters host women-focused events to inspire and empower others in their communities, and also to encourage volunteerism.