Legacy planning for startup businesses

Starting up

6 February 2018

When you start a business, it isn't just about today's balance sheet or tomorrow's – it's about making an impact for the future.

Legacy. Reputation. Call it what you want, but it’s likely you want to make an impact and leave something behind for your family – a successful business that they can be proud of, financial security for future generations and a name that will open doors and opportunities for them.

So how can you be sure that your business will provide a lasting legacy for your loved ones? It all begins with planning ahead.

Draft a vision statement

First things first – what do you want your company to do? For example Facebook's mission statement is "to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected", while the BBC wants “to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.” Creating a vision statement can protect the business from radical changes, helping to ensure your intentions are followed long into the future.

Be a hands-on leader

Building a legacy means making sure your vision is continued. Communicate clearly with your team, and offer mentorship to help them grow into the people you need. They should know your approach and strategy inside-out so that they can continue in your footsteps.

Prepare for the unexpected

No business lasts long without encountering some of the unexpected shocks of life. Accidents can happen, whether it's a member of the public injuring themselves on your premises or your shop suffering theft, vandalism or fire. AXA can help protect your business from nasty surprises, keeping you covered so your business can go from strength to strength, building your legacy.

Have a succession plan

There will come a day when you're no longer around to guide your business. Planning ahead can make sure that the company isn't left rudderless and that everyone knows who will take control if you fall ill. Communicating your intentions well in advance can also help to avoid resentment, so if you have a business partner, keep them in the loop during the decision-making process.

Build family into your business from the outset

It's likely that you'll want to pass the business on to a family member, so make sure they're involved from the very beginning. They'll need to understand and feel passionate about your mission statement and have the skills required to continue your vision, taking your company to the next level. Start by bringing them on as interns so that they know how the business works from the ground up.

Dream big

It's a common misconception that family-run businesses are small organisations: sportswear giant Nike has a market capitalisation of $88.2 billion, and is very much a family affair.  Co-founder Phil Knight was the face of the brand from its launch in 1964, but in 2016 stepped down and handed his board seat over to his son, Travis Knight. You can scale your company while keeping your family at your side, if you groom them to follow in your footsteps.

If you think about your business’ end game and plan your legacy from the beginning, you'll create a reputation to be proud of and will make your mark on the world. Do it right, and the cash flow is sure to follow.