What’s Your Small Business Legacy?

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We spend much of our time early on as entrepreneurs trying to feed our small businesses to the point that they have enough strength to stand on their own.  In many ways, they are like little children we have brought into the world.

We teach them, support them, nourish them, protect them, and we dream about their future.  Sadly though, somewhere along the way we tend to stop thinking about them as our babies and start to think about them only as our business.  We start to focus in more and more on the bottom line, and if we still have dreams about our small businesses they seem to be only nightmares.

Why Did You Start Your Small Business?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve seen far too many examples of entrepreneurs so emotionally wrapped up in their businesses that they make very poor business decisions that ruin them financially.  Doesn’t there have to be more than just a profitable bottom line though?

What were those dreams that you dreamed about your small business?  When you decided to plant that seed in the ground what was it that you envisioned it would grow into?

Is your small business transforming to that vision?  What words would your family, employees, and customers use to describe your business?

Framing Your First Dollar

It used to be common to walk into just about any small business and see a framed dollar bill or check on the wall.  It was their first sale.  A confirmation that they weren’t completely crazy for launching their small business.

I think that this is where those dreams start to fade away for so many entrepreneurs.  Their business is no longer a vision in their heads, but a reality.  It’s no longer a question of if we can sell our product or service, but how do we get the next sale.

After that first ka-ching of the cash register, our business is measured by how many times it can make the register sing rather than the vision we had before that first sale.

When Does Your Small Business Legacy Begin?

Obviously, the cash registers need to keep humming for your business to survive.  It can’t be our only focus as entrepreneurs though unless the only word we want people to use when thinking about our business is profitable.

One of the hardest struggles that larger companies face is changing the culture of their organization.  In many ways, a business learns it’s personality and habits early on just like our children do.  If we do not focus on our legacy early on, it will become incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to change it as the company matures.

Just look at the headlines over the past few years.  Do you think Enron’s founder envisioned its legacy?  Will Goldman Sachs’s bail out be their legacy?  Will people ever forget this oil spill in the gulf?  How did these small business grow into these nightmares?

What’s Your Small Business Legacy?

Your small business will have a legacy.  It may be one that is easily forgotten.  Or, it could be one that we will never be able to forget.  Early on, you still have the choice.

As a Christian entrepreneur, the legacy of my businesses are just as important as any profit and loss statement.  I know that one day I will answer for how I’ve operated them.

When all is said and done, I hope that my businesses are very profitable.  What a shame though if that is all people remember about them.

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Brad's Big Feet Marketing helps people on a limited budget enlarge their online footprint using blogging & social media. His other blog, Marketplace Christianity, examines faith's role in how we earn and spend money.

Brad has written 95 awesome articles for us at Bradley A Harmon

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita_Cartwright May 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm

As usual, you pose a thought-provoking question. I feel honored that God chose me to be a steward over his business, RJ's Word Processing Services. I count my (God's) business as His because of the scripture Psalm 24:1, the earth and everything on it belong to the LORD. The world and its people belong to him (CEV).

I want my business to remembered as a lighthouse, which brought light to someone who was in a dark place. In other words bring hope by proving that if I can do it, you can do it.
My recent post “Go Green” Work With Virtual Assistants

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Brad Harmon July 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm

What a great legacy Rita! How awesome will it be when we get to heaven and find out what impacts we had on people’s lives simply by us holding out that beacon of light to them.
Brad Harmon´s last [type] ..Why a Closed-on-Sunday Policy is Good Business

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Paula May 22, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I think a lot of people forget why they started their business and get so caught up in the mechanics of it all. I know for me, the reason I started working for myself was that I wanted the freedom of working from home and the ability to make my own decisions. I love that about internet marketing.
My recent post Why You Really Need to Start Guest Blogging NOW

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Brad Harmon July 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm

It’s so easy to lose sight of those early goals, isn’t it? I think one of the reasons that many entrepreneurs fail is that they lost track of their first love – that reason that drove them into starting a business in the first place. They look up one day and forget that passion they once had because they didn’t keep those goals at the center of their business.
Brad Harmon´s last [type] ..Why a Closed-on-Sunday Policy is Good Business

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Matt Edmundson May 23, 2010 at 3:27 am

For me – the word legacy is all about the future, when you've gone – will your business have survived and what will they be saying about you.

You shape that now by defining the values of your business and conducting your business accordingly. These values should not change with political opinion or financial regard. So your legacy is built by what you do on the day-to-day, every day. Having guiding values keeps you consistent in those actions.

One of the best things I ever did for my company was to define what those values are. I now do it for every enterprise that I do – whether business, or indeed the Christian Business conference I am arranging – the principles are still the same: set your values. Stick with them. You'll have your legacy.

Thanks for provoking me thinking on this!

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Brad Harmon July 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I like your ideas Matt, but I wonder if I fully agree that your legacy is about when you’ve gone. I think if we open our eyes we can see the impact of our legacy on our business, on our employees, on our families, and on ourselves. Our full legacy may not be known until we’re gone, but there are certainly glimpses of it all around us.
Brad Harmon´s last [type] ..Why a Closed-on-Sunday Policy is Good Business

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alphasmith June 17, 2010 at 1:30 am

Just wanted to say that it's good to see you back writing. I realize this is now almost a month old, but I missed it until now.

Hope to hear more good stuff from you. :)
My recent post Can You Homeschool with a Home-Business?

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Brad Harmon June 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Thanks Allison. Hopefully, I will be much more regular in my postings and online activities again. I appreciate you sticking with me.

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