Entrepreneurs should consider developing an attitude and approach to business that ensures that every decision they make is towards building a long lasting business, a legacy.
The idea should be to build a business that will not only outlive us as its founders, but will outlive even our grandchildren.
What will my grandchildren and future generations say when they look back at where it all started?
The follow-up question that immediately comes to mind is:
What will we tell our grandchildren about decisions we make regarding our businesses today?
Often when we build businesses, we think about the survival of ourselves and our ability to provide for our families, we rarely think of building businesses with our grand and great grandchildren in mind. Maybe that’s why our businesses don’t last beyond our children because we don’t prepare long lasting businesses and we don’t prepare future generations to take over as well.
When I ask entrepreneurs about exit strategies, they don’t prepare them because they don’t think they will exit the business. This indirectly means they are building business that are dependent on them. The business is them and they are the business, as individuals.
What will we say to grandchildren about decisions that will drive the business culture of future generations?
We often advice entrepreneurs at the Vuka Advisory Board for Entrepreneurs to build businesses as if you are going to selling them, as if they are going to hand them over as a legacy to their future generations.
Every decision taken should reflect the mindset of building a business that will survive at least two generations from now.
“What will the future generation say about this decision I’m about to take now. Will they deem it a prudent decision or a careless one?”
The idea is to build to last, to build a business that will outlive you and your children. The future generation must work hard to add on and increase the legacy and preserve it for their next generation.
Like a relay sprint, this is a relationship that transcends from generation to generation. The baton starts with you.
You may see your role in your business as existing only for the duration of your leadership. Alternatively, you may see your role as growing the wealth of both the business and the family, and passing them on and the next generation passing the legacy on and so forth and so on.
Are you building relationships that may not benefit you now, but might benefit you long term?
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe said “we must be willing to fight for a cause that we might not be alive to enjoy its benefits.”
Are you behaving in a manner that has integrity and honor, are you building a reputation that will be an asset to your grandchildren?
The last thing you want is for your bad reputation and lack of integrity to be a liability, a burden to future generations who will not even have met you in their lifetime.
You may work to make your business successful for today, or you may take up the challenge of ensuring a strong foundation that will support the business for leaders of future generations.
You may envision yourself creating a culture and a legacy; inspiring future generations to reflect back with pride on your leadership and your words.
Leaders leave impressions after they leave.
You have built a startup, now it’s time to build a legacy.