Who Will Carry on After You've Gone?


Decide what ultimately matters to you and formulate a vision that you can clearly communicate. That vision will create your legacy

Or to put it more kindly and gently: who is the heir (or heirs) apparent that is going to sustain the business you’ve worked so hard to build? In other words, what kind of a legacy will you create? To answer these questions, you need to begin with the end in mind. Decide what ultimately matters to you and formulate a vision that you can clearly communicate. That vision will create your legacy.

It’s not easy for most entrepreneurs. With tightly packed calendars, unavoidable meetings, and heavy workloads, who has time to worry about the bottom line of the perhaps distant future? Traditionally, companies large and small have hired based on one criteria only: the ability to master their technical aspects of the business, i.e., to produce a work product equal to client expectations and company standards. As a result, they have people with excellent credentials for doing the job at hand, but with little interest in sharing the vision, values, and mission of your business.

Yes, there are a lot of obstacles to creating a legacy while still “in the prime” of your business career. A few suggestions:

Recruit your team. An effective team will have the boss or a trusted second as a leader or coach, not just “the boss.” Choose team members carefully—promising young professionals who have both technical talent and people skills.

Put them in position to succeed. Make sure all your people are in the right position within the company. Help your employees identify their strengths and make them aware of opportunities that suit their key skills. True leadership is about more than overseeing a team of people, it's about ensuring everybody on that team is working to the very best of their ability. 

Have a game plan. Coaches should emphasize building the bridges of continuity between company and client. Teach and support that culture to the next generation of firm leaders, enabling them to contribute to revenue generation early in their careers.

Take time for mentoring. Entrepreneurs are often generalists who contribute to every critical function of their businesses. As a result, few can devote sufficient time to mentor effectively. Make an effort to teach your best people what you know and introduce them to who you know.

Master the message. This was one of Steve Jobs’s “Rules of Success.” You can have the most brilliant vision in the world, but if you can't communicate it to your people, it doesn't matter. Don’t just lecture them: inform, educate, inspire and entertain.

Retain and advance the people who have bought into your vision. Don’t simply hire the “most qualified” people the job. Try to look past their resumes and add team members that have the most enthusiasm and motivation to share your dream and to make a contribution to your vision.

Delegate the daily tasks! Don’t be a micromanager. Relinquish control of the routine tasks and focus on the big picture. Your legacy will not be built on how you handle administration, accounting, or marketing but on how you turned your vision into reality.

If you want to make a lasting impact, you can’t wait until that day when you sail off into the sunset. Building a legacy starts NOW.

Carly Layne