In the midst of an extremely turbulent worldwide economy and in a generation of people who are more and more concerned with the social impact of both governments and businesses, it is important for current and prospective business owners to consider creating a “legacy” business. This is the kind of business that considers more than just the bottom line of profit. (Although profit is a good place to start.) It looks at products, services, suppliers, and even customers in ways that relate to social impact and the “greater good.”
Now before you start to panic or find yourself in need of smelling salts, I am advocating nothing more than an idea that many of the great industrial capitalists of the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. One (Andrew Carnegie) has been widely quoted as saying that you should spend the first half of your life making money and the second half giving it away! If more companies looked at life with this kind of vision, the more they could argue for government to be strong, but limited (I think that idea was expressed in the founding documents of the USA.)
The antithesis of this kind of “legacy” business is the “greed” oriented business that sees only profits and dollars earned as the sole interest of the corporate structure. Another of the industrial giants of the same era of Andrew Carnegie (name withheld on purpose) was reported to say when asked how much money is enough, “One dollar more than I have.” In his mind the only thing a business was to provide was profit to the owners.
I think that there are three essentials to creating a legacy business:
- Start with your legacy in mind. The longer you wait to begin to support your legacy position, the harder it will be to act.
- Make your legacy position known. Don’t be a closet do-gooder, be active and vocal in the things that you support.
- Train your employees in the facts and benefits of your legacy choices. Don’t have people ask your employees about your choices without their understanding your choice and your why!
I think that if you are going going to have long-term success in our current economic condition, the “legacy” business model is right choice. To do otherwise is to throw your lot in with those seen by so many as greedy profiteers whose only goal is to get more in order to get more. It’s time to choose. Where will you and your business stand?
In what ways are you acting as a legacy business? How can budding entrepreneurs learn from you to start right and stay on the right path?