Can we talk about the concept of legacy?

Can we talk about Legacy

What will be left behind from your business after you die…will your work live on, and does that stuff even matter to you?

This is one of the questions I posed to a small group of business owners last year when they joined a VIP mastermind with me.

It took a while for the conversations that ensured to get juicy, it took a while for them to realise that Legacy wasn’t just about taking a business to exit, or leaving it for their offspring.

Often as Solopreneurs, and these women were no different, we get caught up in the day to day busy-ness of business and life, that we rarely take time to think about the big picture, to think about what we are building and the impact of that in the longer term.

For sure we dream about growth and sometimes play in the ‘some day when I am rich and famous” energy, but how much do we REALLY think about what it is we are trying to do via our businesses, what change, personal, professional and maybe even global change we are trying to create.

I have always been a bit obsessed with legacy.

As a child I loved hearing old stories from my grandparents, and reading about famous people from the past. As one of 6 children growing up in a working class family in the East End of London, it was probably quite strange that I cared so much about making a difference, having my life mean something after I was gone…maybe it was the feeling I had as a child of not being important that gave me my drive.

As a teenager I couldn’t wait to get into the workforce, to make my own money, to forge my own path. I had a great uncle that was a journalist that had escaped the tenaments of Beckton to make his own way in life, initially through selling newspapers outside of East Ham train station, later for his words that actually appear in them.

I knew that I would create freedom through commerce…I knew that even from a young age, the idea of someone bossing me about didn’t sit well with me.

I got my first freelance job at 16, assistant director of a community arts play called “We all came from somewhere else” my drama teacher at school had recommended me to the creative producer of the project…and it was a perfect first paid gig. 

Freelance work, consultancy, self employment and entrepreneurship have filled the 29 years since, with the occasional full time job to remind me that “real jobs” do exist, and that I am not particularly cut out for that lifestyle.

I have done a lot of different things in those almost 30 years, project management, programme creation, policy work, training across a range of sectors. I worked for 8 years on legacy projects related to the London 2012 Olympics which happened to find itself in my neighbourhood, and 12 years running a my plus size fitness business which launched my career as a professional keynote speaker, influencer and coach.

Its been a rollercoaster of creativity, challenge and circumstance. 

A lot of women find theirselves with a similar track record of work, what we might now call a portfolio career, but which might have felt a bit flakey, and “choppy changy” (and yes that’s totally a phrase I just made up), juggling the various stages of our lives, parenthood for some, relationship breakdowns, health challenges…oh and a pandemic just thrown in for the fun of it.

I think we get to a point where we have to ask ourselves…what next?

How do I launch into the final phase of my professional life, without having to totally start again, but with a business that is fit for purpose not only for the world we live in now, but also the life I want to live.

The word legacy is often thought about interms of inghertiance, what you get as a result of your parents dying, generational wealth, taking on something someone else has built. I think about Legacy from a business perspective (especially for Solopreneurs) in a different way.

In my lifestyle to legacy framework (and the FREE business audit that I offer to Solopreneurs) I describe the 5 types of solopreneur businesses there are, from a scale of ambition and impact perspective

  • Loss-leading
  • Lifestyle
  • Leveraged
  • Liberated
  • Legacy

In this context Legacy businesses tend to be business that will literally live on beyond the owners lifetime. Where the IP (the intellectual property) has been leveraged and embedded into the world in a way that has continued use and application, and a team created that provides succession. 

This often means a move away from the personal brand that maybe created the initial venture, into more of a corporation or organisation, but where hopefully the original goals and values are upheld.

Not everyone wants this though, and to be fair not every business will make it that far even if it’s their goal. 

Insert stats re large businesses in the UK

This doesn’t mean that the concept of legacy can’t play a role in the other business types.

For example…if you are running a loss leading business, and trust me many Solopreneurs are. Just because you are making money, and maybe even profit, doesn’t mean you are not running your venture at a loss. Maybe the return on investment isn’t there, maybe the cost to your health or your future financial security is just too high.

The legacy from this might be not being available for your friends and family who need you, because you are always working. It might mean that you haven’t been able to financially provide for your retirement, or able to invest in your kids future in the way you might have liked.

For me legacy is a bit like consequence, cause and effect, being able to trace back how you have ended up in the situation you are in, and asking yourself could it have been any different, could I have built and run my venture in a different way.

I think about the legacy I created from my Plus Size Fitness business, I grew that to 6 figures using a low pricepoint high volume strategy, and I was able to leverage my audience and my IP to secure contracts with global brands, opening opportunities for global speaking gigs and TV work.

But beyond the business successes, there were all the personal stories of triump, the tens of thousands of women who changed the way they felt about themselves, the running industry which had to take a look at the way they operated when confronted with the reality that not all runners looked like the athletic men at the heart of most fitness brands.

I think the biggest win for me though was showing my daughter (and maybe other people too) what is possible with a bit of hard work, unwavering belief in a mission to change the world, and some creative branding. 

Small adjustments to the way you think about your business, and the way you approach it on a day to day basis can make a massive.

I am on a bit of a mission to dispel some myths around legacy building and to show women (yes especially women) what choices they have to leverage their lifes work and to move into the final phase of their business life with confidence and determination.

The thing is, we work so hard to get to the point where we feel like we have made a difference, and then all of a sudden we are 30 something years in and questioning what next, questioning if there is still more in the tank, questioning if there are things we know that can be passed on…things we still want to do before we wind down, if ever we do LOL

What legacy will you leave behind from your Solopreneur business?

Take my FREE business audit to see if you are running a loss leading or legacy business

Are you at a cross roads with your expert based Solopreneur business? Want to spend some times thinking through your next steps, reflecting on what got you here, and where the next step of the journey might take you?