Your Business as Part of Your Legacy

Vox has a post up about creating vs. complaining. Reading through the comments, the topic of greedy businesses practices was discussed. This is something that has irritated me for quite some time. Most large corporations care about one thing: maximizing profit at the expense of everyone and everything else. Having greed, one of the 7 deadly sins, as your motivation may not be the wisest course of action.

I have owned a small business, I know how hard it is to make it work. However, I was far more concerned with treating people fairly than taking advantage of them. A business is an extension of who you are as a person. You will literally pour yourself into it. If you are passionate enough to refinance the equity out of your home, draw up a 40 page business plan, obtain the remaining financing necessary, and are willing to lose everything if it fails, then you obviously believe it is a worthwhile endeavor. I understand that most small businesses fail. Mine broke even after 2 years and simply was no longer worth the effort, so I shut it down. However, the lessons I learned and the experience I gained were invaluable. Marketing, finance, employees, taxes, payroll, I had no idea. I shifted all that knowledge into property investing and it has been very successful.

The popular saying is “It’s just business.” Well, business is always conducted between people or a group acting as an entity so, no it’s not. It is always personal. Someone is buying and someone is selling and the transaction should be mutually beneficial. Crazy I know. Taxes and regulation make it impossible difficult to leave room for generosity. My advice is to start with your legacy in mind. Vox owns Castalia House. Is his goal to maximize profits, run it into the ground, and shut it down later in life? I hardly think so. I would imagine that he hopes it will grow and outlast him, maybe passing it on to his son. Sam Walton would probably be proud how large his company has become and then roll over in his grave at what it has become.

Success brings a certain level of accountability for the spiritually mature man. Your motivations will be greater than pure profit. You will leave room for a “tithe” of sorts in everything you do to purposely bless others. It may be as simple as the quality of the book for the price or cutting your rent by $25/mo because someone else always needs that money more than you. Treat others the way you want to be treated is woven into the fabric of reality. It is the way to live your life so that God can ultimately return that blessing to you. You turn a corner, typically around 42, where you realize you have more time behind you than ahead. It is a sobering moment. It galvanizes you to focus on your legacy as a husband, father, friend, citizen, and yes, business owner. Being aware of this change earlier in life allows you more time to deliberately build a brand based on goodwill and integrity, all while making a fair profit.

 

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