Are you building a legacy business?

What is the actual point of your business?

No, I am not being rude, I am simply asking you to consider what you are doing it all for.

People go into business for all kinds of reasons, 

  • For flexibility
  • For autonomy
  • For freedom

Because there is a change they want to see in THE world, or maybe ever just THEIR world.

But also sometimes by accident, they find themselves running a business, or working freelance without a real strategy or idea of the direction of travel….and then when they finally come up for air (normally in their late 40s or 50s/60s) they start to question what its all for, and how to transition into retirement (or not lol)

I initially went into business in the 90s because being a freelancer was kind of a given for most creatives, freelance and project-by-project work was the norm, and the pay was marginally better if you had consistent day rate work as opposed to a salaried position. I’m not sure I considered myself to be in business, I was just going where the cool work was.

The same was true when I did more project management, strategy, and policy work…I went where I was needed, where my skillset was, where felt interesting and I loved the creative freedom to choose projects that inspired me, and to take time off for adventure and learning, something my friends in “proper” jobs, couldn’t always do so easily. 

When I set up my first actual business (ie not consultancy) in 2013, it was because I had just been made redundant from a full-time job while pregnant with my daughter, and full-time work wasn’t a viable option now, what with the cost of childcare and my need to cover all the bills as a single parent. I needed a business where I wasn’t trading my time or expertise for money, where I could make the equivalent of two peoples salaries at least.

Working for yourself isn’t ALWAYS the easiest option though, especially when things outside of your control come along like COVID or changes in your industry. Some of that stuff you just don’t see coming, and often we just don’t think enough about the “what ifs”

We all know someone who had a brilliant business, and some kind of life event threw them completely off track whether that be illness, bereavement, or family stuff. 

The truth is, even without lifes surprises it takes a lot to stay motivated, sane and solvent across your whole lifetime in business.

I come across lots of business owners who have 20 or 30 years of professional life behind them, a mix of corporate life, business ventures, and all kinds of adventure…and they get to a point where they are like “Now What?”

Some might think of this akin to having a mid-life or mid-business crisis, I just think for every season of our lives it makes sense to review the direction of travel….to reconnect to our purpose.

And the older we get, the less we are able to ignore the fact that time might be running out.

Time to think about legacy?

It is often believed that legacy is what we leave behind. The assets we leave to our kids, the foundations we set up, the intellectual property or organisations that live on beyond us.

But that is only one side of things.

Even if you have no intention of building a Legacy Business, a business that is designed specifically to have a life of its own beyond the life of its founder/owner…you can still leave a lasting impact AND in fact, acquire more wealth as a result of repositioning your lifestyle business with legacy in mind.

Regardless of how big your business is, how successful it is, and what it does or doesn’t manage to achieve, there is still a legacy from it.

Think about it.

If you spend 20 years trying to make your business work, putting all the hours in, making sacrifices, and missing out on important events and time off…what impact does that have?

Similarly, what if the work you do in this world lives on in the hearts and minds of your clients, collaborators and cheerleaders…who knows what long-term impact that has.

But we can’t just hope that things will work out OK in the end, we must be intentional and build legacy into our business strategy.

In the early 2000’s I worked on the London 2012 Olympic Games, on the 25-year legacy masterplan.

I was in my mid-20s at the time. This gave me a unique opportunity to be able to do some future visioning and to think about the kind of life I wanted for myself. Where I would be in my 40s and 50s. The type of proffessional life I wanted to lead, who I wanted to be. 

I also had the incredible privilege of being able to do that strategy work with organisations, companies, and local people, particularly young people, helping them to leverage the opportunities that came with the games, and positioning themselves well to benefit from it all.

A 25-year masterplan may seem unwieldy, but with smaller strategy and activation plans that sit beneath it, it can really help you achieve more of what you REALLY want, rather than leaving so much to chance.

Having a masterplan isn’t about micromanaging your business, knowing exactly what the plan is…but it is about being intentional about where you are trying to get to, and what you’d like to happen as part of that journey.

As business owners we can get so caught up in the hear and now, the targets we have set for this month and next, and whether we are on track for this years goals.

But when we look a little further ahead, it helps us to think better, to be more strategic, to take more risks, to take advantage of other things happening on the horizon too.

And so as we start to look at 2024, and the directions we would like to take our businesses I encourage you to include these 3 questions in your thinking.

  1. Where do I want my business and life to be in 10 years
  2. What impact do I want to have made with my life’s work
  3. How can I build in strategic accountability for fulfilling my vision and purpose

Next Spring will mark 30 years since I signed my first freelance contract as assistant director for a community arts project called “we all came from somewhere else”

My goal now, is the same as it was then.

I wanted to use my unique insights and skills, and love of people, to help make a difference to the lives or ordinary people who have the courage to do something extraordinary with their life.

My 10-year vision, includes being available for my 10-year-old daughter to support her through her teenage years.

It also includes plans for leaning more into my work as an author, speaker and changemaker and creating sustainable wealth and career freedom to see me into retirement. 

Your plan will look very different to mine, and so it should.

Our business strategies ae bespoke to us, to our life stage, circumstances, skillset and ambition for our ventures.

One thing I think we can all agree on though, is none of us want to leave this planet with regrets.

So get legacy planning now….and then take fearless action while you can. 

Julie Creffield is a business legacy strategist, author and keynote speaker on the topics of productivity, purpose and profit.

She has spent 30 years working in change and transformation as a trainer, coach and consultant, while simultaneously climbing the social mobility ladder that has seen her move from her family home on a council estate in East London to a million-pound barn conversion in the countryside with her daughter.

Her programmes have helped millions of people around the world to make BIG changes, and to seek out adventure. She now works with ambitious business owners, to help them ramp up their income, influence, and impact with her high-level business leadership programs and growth incubators. 

Book in a free legacy audit

If you are an ambitious business owner who is considering their next steps, why not book in a call with Julie to see if she can help you think about the right strategic move for you and your business. 

This process will start with her “What kind of business are you REALLY running” audit, and a review of your data on a consultancy follow up call to figure out your best plan of attack. 

Looking for a business legacy strategist?

If you are a solopreneur doing all of the doing, AND all of the thinking, and have got yourself in a bit of a pickle. I might be able to help. As a business legacy strategist I help solopreneurs to get clear on their vision, their strategy and the best tactics to deploy, but most importantly I help them turn their ideas into sustained, successsful action…and before it’s too late and they have run out of time or steam to reach their full potential.

I have been a solopreneur for close to 30 years, and have been supporting freelancers, artists, coaches, creatives, experts, speakers and sole traders of all kinds of proffesions for more than 20 years. I am a keynote speaker on the topics of productivity, purpose and profits and the author of the book How NOT to be Broke.