5 Factors for Planning Your Entrepreneurial Legacy
Surviving day-to-day economic realities may make thinking ahead feel like a luxury, but now is the perfect time to lay it all on the line.
In business today, disruption is the name of the game. Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for ways to shake things up, find new perspectives and change the rules.
While carving out a place for yourself in the market is crucial, focusing only on your numbers sheet is a bit shortsighted. For entrepreneurs, the sign of true success isn’t short-term profits — it’s a lasting legacy. Now more than ever, entrepreneurs need to look forward to what their long-term impact on the world will be. Knowing what you’ll be known and remembered for down the line, however, isn't always easy. If you’re hoping to turn your present success into a future legacy, it’s important to start thinking ahead today. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when planning your entrepreneurial legacy.
Building positive relationships is already a key component of good business. Digital marketing firm RevLocal reports that companies can lose between 20 percent and 80 percent of their customers by not cultivating healthy relationships with them. Despite the money that can follow strong connections with people, the value of relationships extends far beyond the realm of the financial.
Related: The Key to Success? Relationships
Relationships are one of the elements of your legacy that you can start working on immediately. When dealing with people in your circle, take some time to think beyond the short-term. It can be easy to go days or weeks simply viewing people as co-workers, clients or competitors; in fact, these people are the ones who have the biggest hand in shaping your legacy going forward. Ensure that you’re connecting with those around you, showing them the side of yourself that you want to be remembered for.
That includes constantly setting others up for success. Ask what you can help with. Offer to make an introduction. Investigate partnerships that make sense for both you and your potential partner. The more connections you make, the more indestructible your value becomes, both personally and professionally.
Entrepreneurs want to make valuable, lasting investments, but the impact of those investments shouldn't just be financial. Investing in environmental, social and developmental causes can not only earn you your investment back, but it can also promote important work the world over.
Socially minded investing is no longer the niche practice it once was. According to the investment experts at family office services provider Pathstone, impact-focused investing has increased rapidly in recent years, accumulating to a total of more than $30 trillion. Identify causes important to you before scouting for various businesses and organizations that turn those causes into valuable investment opportunities.
Some trailblazing entrepreneurs may make their mark through tech innovations, organizational reshuffles or early industry investments, but the entrepreneurs who truly change the game are often the ones who bring entirely new ways of thinking to the table. Developing powerful examples of thought leadership is one of the most effective ways to share your vision with the world.
According to a survey from LinkedIn, 58 percent of respondents read one or more hours of thought leadership content every week. With numbers like that, writing content that embodies your unique perspective might well be the best way to reach the largest possible audience. As your reach expands, you're able to lead conversations, influence opinions and introduce ideas that just may disrupt your industry. Whether it's talking about your field's supply chain or questioning how your industry addresses issues like sexual harassment, you can attract attention from both industry heavyweights and potential superstars who can help your company build its legacy.
In the cutthroat world of startups, an emphasis on short-term growth is often necessary just to stay afloat. While staying solvent in the near term is a valuable strategy for ensuring your business’s success now, legacy-focused entrepreneurs need to have an eye on sustaining long-term growth as well. It’s much more difficult for your business to carry a legacy if it doesn’t last. Many businesses in that position become warnings for others, a la Kodak.
The toughest part of planning for long-term growth is that it can be nearly impossible to do in the early stages of your career. While making evergreen investments and expanding into rising sectors are good places to start, there’s simply no way to know exactly what will guarantee your success down the line. Younger entrepreneurs should try to adopt certain habits that can lead to future growth. Predicting the next big thing may be difficult, but creating a hardworking mindset is a surefire way to rise to the top. Gut instinct may not be with you at every step, but working harder than the next person is always a good calling card.
The world of entrepreneurship may often feel dog-eat-dog, but young business leaders around the world are looking for guidance. A study from digital-finance platform Kabbage reports that more than 90 percent of small-business owners describe their mentors as having directly impacted the growth and profitability of their business.
The responsibility of the older generation of business leaders is to cultivate the next generation. Think of mentorship as a combination of the relationships and thought leadership above. By mentoring young entrepreneurs in your circle, you’re ensuring that your way of thinking will live on. You're also promoting the success of those close to you. Done right, mentorship can be a way to secure a legacy for yourself while benefiting others in the process and developing your own succession plans. To keep your legacy going, you'll want to ensure you've developed the right talent with the right vision, and this kind of mentorship is key to doing so.
In uncertain times, the desire to ensure that your legacy will live on can be greater than ever. As difficult as it can be to see beyond the short term, entrepreneurs today need to be looking forward. The future of their business may well depend on it.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor