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How To Avoid The Death Of Your Legacy

Updated: May 28

Entrepreneurs go into business to pursue a dream, find a better career, or make more money. But most entrepreneurs also want to do more than that. They want to leave a legacy.

Hubert built a business that is now profitable and debt free. But he has not built a team to succeed him. Retirement is heavy on his mind. He and his board are all tired and ready for the next season of their lives. They allow word to get out that the business is “not for sale, but could be bought.”

An offer comes in just above the agreed-upon price for all cash at closing. Hubert and his board are exuberant.

But the new purchaser’s board questions the company’s value without Hubert. When they learn Hubert has not developed a team to carry on in his absence, they withdraw their offer.

A second offer fizzles for the same reasons, and a third offer is half the price of the first.

In the end, Hubert and his board sell the company for half what they had hoped for.

Hubert faced the crossroad of legacy and failed. He failed to build a team to carry on his legacy.

At the crossroad of legacy, Hubert instead merely built a business.

Entrepreneurs who change the world through their work are leaving a legacy.

Working to only make money will leave you exhausted, burned out, and angry.

But, working to leave a legacy will leave you energized, thankful, and fulfilled.

From Nelson Mandela to Mother Teresa, many outstanding leaders have left their legacy. Mandela ended apartheid and became South Africa’s first Black president; Madame Curie was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize (for discovering radiation); Albert Einstein altered our knowledge of the world; and Mother Teresa was so revered that she was made a saint! Through their accomplishments, these individuals showed that leaving a legacy is perhaps what life is really about.

Legacy is an inheritance or gift handed down from one generation to the next. You should know that you cannot see the most powerful elements of a legacy. People often consider a legacy to be real estate or money, but intangible gifts are the most treasured parts: values, memories, stories, friendship, love, and respect.

Your legacy is the inheritance that the wisest man in the world, Solomon, says you should leave to your grandchildren:

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. Proverbs of Solomon 13:22

One of the greatest legacies you can leave behind is a business that continually makes a profit and blesses its community for generations!

Leaving a legacy business means dreaming big and changing the world for the better. Among the most successful entrepreneurs, this is a powerful motivator.

Nothing is more wonderfully intoxicating than building a business that outshines you, survives you, and promotes your values in succeeding generations.

Your legacy reflects the lessons you have learned and celebrates what was important to you. It captures the important moments of your life.

But it is tragically sobering to understand that most entrepreneurs’ legacy dies shortly after they depart from their business.

Seventy percent of businesses don’t survive into their second generation of leadership. That means the legacy of those who led those businesses also dies.

Statistically, shortly after your death, your business will flounder, disintegrate, and die.

So will your legacy.

How can you avoid the death of your legacy?

1. Gather a team of people around you who are more capable than you to succeed you and keep your legacy alive.

Many leaders don’t gather a smarter team around them because they don’t want to admit that others can do a better job than them. But here is the truth: smart leaders get smarter leaders to work for them.

Why not be a part of the team that replaces you?

2. Be intentional about identifying your core values and steeping your potential successors in them.

These are the values succeeding generations will use to build an impactful future.

3. Hold the team accountable to build a business that will continue to make a profit, bless its community, and advance its purpose, even in your absence.

Without intentional planning, your legacy will die. But with care, you can help it live for generations!

Harry T. Jones

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