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3 types of legacies entrepreneurs can build

Written by Geoffrey Fairhurst (ActionCOACH Business Coach – Kempton Park)

Having had the opportunity to explore the concept of legacy, specifically from a business perspective, one of the ever-present themes I’ve come across is this: Legacies are created, designed, developed, nurtured, and consciously worked on over a period of time. It does not happen by chance and is fundamentally associated with decision and choice. In simple terms building a legacy means creating something enduring that can be passed on. As Charles Dickens stated, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others”. It is this drive to benefit others in a lasting way that should be the motivation to leave a legacy.

There has been a lot of talk about a legacy business. A good example of a legacy business is Disney. Founder Walt Disney’s legacy lives on and on through the world of Disney. The other type of legacy seen more and more today is entrepreneurial legacy. Here the entrepreneur sets out to create a legacy through entrepreneurial spirit and endeavours. The entrepreneurial legacy has led to the creation of a number of legacy businesses, where Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Steve Jobs spring to mind. This is off the top rung of the entrepreneurial ladder and here is where it becomes interesting. 

The rung below the entrepreneur is the investor. Here the investor creates and builds a legacy by investing in other ventures, businesses, and organisations that they build, create and nurture legacies. Perhaps the finest example of this is Warren Buffett, an extraordinary investor. In the beginning, it’s noted that a legacy is intentional and created. The importance of this is how it relates to the next three rungs on the entrepreneur ladder namely;

  • Owner,
  • Manager,
  • Self-employed.

Each of these must operate, act, and behave in such a way that “legacy” is one of the top business goals. This business goal – legacy must be as clearly defined as any of the other business goals and is just as important. Include the legacy dreams and goals of the owner and the decision is “What is the legacy to be created here?”

The possible options are;

  1. Generational,
  2. Philanthropical,
  3. Visionary.

Or a combination of all three. 

It is an impactful consideration and decision, an entirely new way to approach your business and business planning. Let’s briefly explore the three options:

Generational or family business legacy 

This is where the business is built on the premise that ownership will be passed on from generation to generation. Current owners of a family business are all too aware of the complications that can come with this type of succession planning. Statistically only around one in eight family businesses make it to the third generation and beyond, often because after that, future generations no longer have the same dreams, goals, and aspirations. Because of this, business growth becomes more about leadership succession planning with the business legacy evolving into one of supporting the future family generations, mainly financially, through profitability.

Philanthropical legacy

This is centred around using the business profits to fund defined philanthropical activities. These should be causes you are passionate about, make a difference, and have a positive meaningful impact on the lives of those involved. This truly aids in incorporating a sense of purpose into your life right now. The general idea is business profits provide the desired capital base for future philanthropical activities to thrive, no longer being dependent on the business.

Visionary legacy

Here the onus for executing the visionary legacy lies with the current executive and management team of the business. The business is probably already multi-generational having been around for many decades. We are starting to see these multi-generational businesses which have been around for 100 years plus upping their legacy game. Here the legacy is generally founded on global environmental issues and global social issues. It becomes an integral part of the vision of the business.

Leaving a legacy means living a legacy. The day-to-day actions of you and your business will be the bricks on which the legacy is built. It starts with a long-term mindset. Ultimately, building a legacy demands preparation, time, and commitment.

The key takeaway for those interested in leaving a legacy is that construction should start immediately. Get started today! Remember that actions, not thoughts, build legacies. Hiring an ActionCOACH Business Coach would be a terrific opportunity to ensure you’ll be building a business legacy. Contact your nearest business coach today!

ActionCOACH is a proud Partner of the NSBC