Family Affair: Rise of the Mittelstand
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Step back in time: Ancient companies going strong

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In today's fast-paced business world, companies seem to come and go in a matter of years. But if you are looking to set up a company, take heart.

The following nine businesses – many of them small-to-medium-sized concerns – have been around for centuries, surviving everything from war and economic turbulence to famine, plague and pestilence.

Read on and be inspired as CNBC takes you on a historical tour of some of the world's oldest businesses.

By Anmar Frangoul, special to

RJ Balson & Son