“Legacy” is a powerful word and aspiration. When entrepreneurs get started, they either want to build their company to have a successful exit and sell out, or they imagine the generations that will come after them and contribute to the legacy of their business. This can be created for a family business specifically, or just a long term vision for the company that spans multiple generations and decades, whether pushed forth by employees or one’s own family.
It’s an impactful consideration, and an entirely new way to approach business. For one, it encourages you as a founder or part of a founding team to look beyond today’s fads and trends and consider how your product or service will continue to be relevant and impactful in the long run. This also may provide for a better infrastructure building of how the company is managed and operated. Building a business for a long term impact is a different type of building entirely. Here’s how to consider how to implement legacy and leave a mark on the world through your business.
1. Be The Best At What You Do
A surefire way to stand the test of time is to be the very best at what you do. This extends to your work beyond a company if you’re a spokesperson, author, or politician, too. Think about major legacies that have been left behind by movers and shakers like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Theresa. They both stood for something and gave their lives to it — and for that, they were the very best at what they did.
One example of a company legacy is Disney. Walt Disney sought to make wonderland on earth for his children with the creation of Disney amusement parks and live action films. He’s considered to this day a pioneer in his field because of the innovations he made. He was the very best at bringing ‘make believe’ to life — through in-person experiences at the Disney theme parks and the films he made with his illustrations.
2. Add A New Cause To An Existing Legacy
Perhaps your company already stands for something; you’ve inherited it from your family or acquired it in a business deal. Or, you want your company to stand for something in alignment with what already exists, but you want to add new innovation to it. How can you further the legacy that is already in place? Hinduja S. P. Shanu, the Chair of the Chair of Hinduja Bank in Switzerland, Chair of the Hinduja Foundation US, and Co-Chair and Director of Hinduja Global Solutions Inc., is carrying forth her family’s legacy in her role in each company, but is adding a new cause to the impact: women’s empowerment in entrepreneurship.
“In the Asian and Middle Eastern markets, women are starkly underserved in entrepreneurship. We are committing efforts to social impact investing to encourage the professional development of female founders,” she shared. This is a continuation of her late grandfather Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja’s efforts to bridge the trading sectors between India and the West, while also carrying that multiculturalism forward into her own passions and desire for impact on female entrepreneurs.
3. Honor Your Existing Legacy In A New Way
Or, perhaps you can shift your legacy while still honoring it. Another member of the entrepreneurial Hinduja family, Karam Hinduja, began a flagship media business to honor his family’s entrepreneurial legacy while also approaching the media industry in a new way. “Timeless is really about storytelling and sharing powerful perspectives that bring the world together, just as my family sought to do in their businesses,” Hinduja noted. “This is my contribution because I love media and the power in connecting through honest conversations about the state of global affairs today.”
Even if your own family isn’t entrepreneurial, consider how you can extend a continuation of your family’s work in the world and the values that mattered to them. Maybe there was a way your father cooked that you want to carry forth in your new restaurant and cooking class, or your mother was a doctor specializing in a specific illness and you are now starting a nonprofit foundation to support patients with that illness. You can add your own talents and interests to the legacy that pre-existed.
4. Carry On A Country Or Culture’s Heritage
Legacy can also be built upon the continuation of a country or culture’s heritage - a legacy that others who share that culture or that home country can connect to. This is exactly what Alexander Johnson, the founder and non-executive chairman of the Whisky Cask Company, does. Their company offers the highest integrity Scotch-Whisky products from five whisky-making regions of Scotland to collectors from around the world, continuing the Scottish tradition of whisky-making and sharing it worldwide.
“We very much adopt the long game mentality with Whisky Cask,” shared Johnson. “We consider our collectors to be family and imagine a long future outstretched ahead of us, connecting the people who care about authentic Scottish whiskey with whiskey made in the regions of Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands, Islay, and Campbeltown.” When a company represents the heritage of a culture or country, it’s easier to unite a customer base or community under the same heritage and legacy.
5. Make An Impact
Finally — and, as an addition to all of the previous points — seek to make an impact. Naturally you will by proving you’re the best at what you do, by innovating, by creating causes that matter, and by aligning with the legacies of other cultures. But seek above all to help others. Oprah Winfrey famously said, “Your legacy is every life you’ve touched.” While this certainly extends to you as an individual and all who have known you outside of your company, your business has the power to touch and influence lives. How can you further that impact?
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