THE BLOG

Your Business Needs a Legacy

03/06/2015 05:45 pm ET | Updated May 06, 2015

As entrepreneurship gets more and more popular in recent years, it seems almost impossible to make your business stand out naturally. It seems as though so many business owners get hung up on trying to become "the next big thing" or have their vision clouded by the myriad of eCourses and books designed to help you build better businesses. I get it. It gets messy -- so many different opinions start telling you how to and how not to run your business to achieve their version of success. You end up having a million and one resources on your digital bookshelf, but find yourself not knowing how to actually implement all of it, in a way that doesn't overwhelm you, but still preserves what you love to do.

Because it gets easy to be carried away when you're reading all these resources on their version of success. Everyone tells you to be you, but after giving you their resources, you realize that their methods are not really you at all. But you don't really dare to do something different, because after all, their methods worked.

If only you could just know how to build a business that not only works, but moves in a direction that you can control, and that you love?

I was frustrated for many years prior to 2013, when I read business book after business book and didn't know how to actually implement in a way that worked for me and my business. Because let's be honest here, if you used a method that didn't really work for or resonated with you, chances are you won't get a whole lot of success. Your heart just isn't in it and you don't really believe in it -- and prospects can sniff that out no matter how hard you try to conceal it.

Add to that that consumers are getting smarter and have more choices by the minute because there are just so many entrepreneurs and businesses nowadays with great ideas and a lot of passion to serve their people... It just seems harder to get to that "happy place" of a business that works for you and that you love.

The problem is that we take a fast food approach to business, just as we do in our daily lives. We tend to believe that "the next big thing" is all that and if we could only become that, we would hit the jackpot. And the worst part of the problem is that we think that just one viral blog post, or one product or service that hits the mark, or just one really lucky point of view can get us to become the elusive next big thing.

Because what we don't see of these "next big things" are years and years of sweat, and blood and tears. They didn't build their businesses (and their legacies) over a fortnight. And chances are, they don't want to be the next big thing either. Because trends fade, and people (no matter how viral they were for a period of time) get forgotten.

So this is where legacy comes in.

Legacy gets people talking... Way after they walk out of the room.

If your business had an idea or school of thought that so resonated with your customers, readers, prospects that they passed it on, your business has a legacy. But in order to truly claim it your own, you need to do the work. You don't simply talk about something, or think about something, to make it into a legacy that spreads. You need to physically live it out daily in your life and business to touch and impact people until they join your revolution and pass it on. They believe it with all their hearts and they see it manifested in you.

So they talk about it, they think about it, even after they have walked out of the room. How do people talk about you and think about you and feel, after they've had an experience with you and your business?

Legacy gives you direction and focus, in a way that's unique to you.

You know all those business plans and blueprints that the well-meaning people taught you, but that made you confused and frantic? All out the window when you have and know your legacy. Because legacy gets you working backwards, you know what direction to take, and what to focus on, in order to truly live out and leave your legacy.

How will the decision you make today, affect the legacy you want to leave? Does the service you're offering align to your legacy? How can you work intentionally towards the legacy you want your business to leave? What should you do next?

Legacy lets you see the bigger picture.

When you're just blindly building your business, you don't see the bigger picture. You only see the road that's in front of you, and the version of success you're "supposed" to reach. But legacy gives you the clear end point. It isn't about six- or seven- or eight-figures anymore, it's about how you want your business to be talked about and remembered, and what your clients feel after working with you. The ripples that you leave are direct product of your legacy. Now that you're given the bird's eye view, you no longer limit yourself to the ways of doing business that people taught you, but instead, you forge a path that's unique to you that will allow you to not only reach your legacy and leave it, but also helps you live it out in your everyday.


So now it's your turn -- what is your business's legacy? How can you live it out and cultivate it?

Kara-Anne Cheng is a branding coach and creative designer at The Petite Company. She talks about legacy in business every week, especially in her free training series here.