Many new business owners are starting a business not only because they love their skill but because they want to build a sustainable even a legacy business. They want their contribution to the business world to last for many years. Actually, the impact you have on society as you serve it with your business, is creating a legacy whether you know it or not. In this post, we will look at what you can do if you consciously intend to build a sustainable business. According to Kimberly Wade-Benzoni in “How to Think About Building your Legacy”, “Legacy building in business contexts can take the form of working to ensure the long-term viability of the organization and leaving it stronger, more productive, and more valuable than it was before.” In other words, it requires you to think about the long term implications of the business actions you take. Legacy thinking can help you create a big business because of your long term perspective. This post will explore 6 practices that you can adopt as you build your business from startup to sustainability or/and legacy.
“To be a successful entrepreneur one needs a vision of greatness for one’s work. If we dream extravagantly we will be inspired to forge a reality beyond the straight jacket of practicalities.”
1. Design a Mission or purpose that’s meaningful to you. Your purpose should be long lasting or intended to remain unchanged indefinitely. This requires a very broad purpose that does not contain specifics. Some examples would be:
Alzheimer’s Association: “Our Vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease.”
Norfolk Southern: “Be the safest, most customer-focused and successful transportation company in the world.”
Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Disney: To make people happy.
Instagram: Capture and Share the World’s Moments.
How are these Purposes similar?
-They are very general. They do not specify any particular procedure or, in most cases, service or product.
-They can stay relevant forever. There is no time limit or time span.
-Technological advances will not change the basic purpose.
-They are inspiring and motivating.
2. Consistently apply state-of-art Management skills. Excellent management of all facets of your business is required for the building, fortifying and scaling of your business. These are specific skills that will save you time, money and a variety of mistakes. They will also efficiently and effectively lead you to excellence. One of the basic management skills you will need is:
Strategic Management Skills
There’s a lot of discussion about the value of strategic plans. Some say they aren’t needed, others say they inhibit growth and iteration and some say they don’t work. Any way you look at it, some type of planning is essential. You must be able to see and project how you’re going to get to your Vision and this plan should be available, explicit and clear to all who share the responsibility to get there.
You will develop a Strategic Management Plan. That is, a plan to guide your business through it’s stages of development. What does a strategic management plan contain? A Strategic Management Plan will include your Vision for your enterprise for the next 3 to 5 years. It will also contain your objectives systems of operation and standards. What discipline does it take to create one? You must become the “Keeper of the Vision.”
3. Become a committed Visionary. The Visionary holds the key purpose in his/her mind and maintains a culture for the creation of a sustained enterprise.
Develop a habit of Big Thinking by setting aside time to think. This is a common sense directive, but the reality is that life is fast paced and there are many distractions, responsibilities, and surprises hitting us everyday. So it’ll take a very deliberate effort to make time to think. It must be done if success is your goal.
Think big about all of your business projects. Look at things from a wide and far reaching perspective. For example, think of your contribution to the world, or stretch your imagination so that you can see everything that is possible from where you are.
Make regular use of your imagination. Don’t put limits on what your business can achieve. This type of imagining can be highly motivating.
4. Encourage a shared purpose throughout your organization. Employ others who value and demonstrate your core purpose in their life and work habits.
“Don’t listen to their words, fix your attention on their deeds.” Albert Einstein
The Gallup organization conducted a study of managers in approximately 400 companies. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman described how the study pointed to the need to select employees by testing their talent (habitual behaviors and strongly held principles). You can look for new employees that share and demonstrate your core purpose. These will be elements of his or her talent, “the recurring patterns, thought, feeling and behavior.” If you can hire people with the natural talent you need in your business; it will, more than likely, lead to long term success. So this is an area worth studying. It worked for 400 successful managers, so it should work for you. Look for habits. Habits are talents; they are enduring characteristics and prominent attitudes that are revealed in the conversations you have with potential affiliates.
“You can’t just keep doing what works one time, because everything around you is always changing. To succeed, you have to stay in front of the change.” Sam Walton
5. Practice “proactive innovation”. Keep continuos research in your field and habitually anticipate needed improvements, simplifications or redesigns. Design a research System for every operation in your enterprise. You can plan to hire people in the future who will carry out these functions. The point is to try to stay ahead of changes or create the changes yourself.
Fusion92 vice president of innovation Jacob Beckley believes “ innovation might have slightly different meanings depending on the industry, its core is universal. embodies the improvement of something that has come before,” Beckley also said, “It is the evolution of convenience, efficiency and effectiveness.” He believes companies that regularly innovate will be the ones enjoying on-going success.
See: “Innovation: Key to Successful Business” by Chad Brooks
According to Beckley:
“In the vast sea of innovation, companies that take the largest risk, close the biggest gaps and identify the newest opportunities are rewarded with the title of true innovators and leaders by their consumers and peers,” he said. “These true innovators are setting themselves apart from any and all competition.” – See more at:
6. Practice a focused patience. Obviously, this type of legacy building is complex and demanding. It will take a great amount of time and energy. As you begin to realize what’s ahead, you will condition yourself for the focus and patience needed to get to your targets and ultimate goals. The fuel for focused patience will be continuos learning.
“Some experts go so far as to say learning is leadership, a leader’s constant quest for the improvement of the business, people, and results. As a leader, what do you need to learn? What leadership skills, strategic practices, or management techniques will help you be more effective? Look at your results, and notice where there’s room for improvement. What do you need to learn in order to improve those results? This is the kind of learning that supports powerful leadership.” Joelle K Jay Ph.D
Our Age of Information requires continuous learning, but this is often difficult for the entrepreneur. Particularly, if you are the one responsible for everything that happens in your business; but, somehow, if you commit to legacy building, you will find a way to do it. In fact, today’s technology makes it much easier, than in the past, to do the ongoing research you need.
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Albert Einstein
If you intend to keep your organization alive for many years, there are basic things that you must do. You must find a purpose that you love and keep it at the forefront of your mind at all times. Think of yourself as the “Vision keeper” because you, alone, are responsible for it’s life. Live your purpose and demonstrate it in all your work related activities. Finally, be prepared to proactively innovate in your enterprise. This will keep you and your affiliates motivated and keep your enterprise relevant for years to come.