How to Create a Legacy for Your Family

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
Photo by Erin Weir

What does “creating a legacy for your family” mean to you? Merriam Webster defines “legacy” as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”. Using that definition, have you given any thought to what will happen to your business when you retire? Do you plan to just close the doors, or do you feel that you would like the time, energy and dedication you have given to make your firm unique to represent a legacy for your family?

Creating a legacy for your family through your business can be a wonderful gift, but it doesn’t happen by accident. Just as with other parts of your business, you need to have a vision and set goals that will help you reach that vision – in this case, creating a legacy for your family.

For some of you that might mean that the business will live on through your children or other family members. Maybe you have found that at least one child has the passion that you have for the business – or maybe it’s a niece or nephew, or other relative. The same advice we share about how to hire applies whether they are family members or not – do they fit the culture of your business, do they share the same values, will they be a good “fit” with your team? And the big question – will they be willing to purchase the business. Or you may hold on to a percentage and as you retire from being actively involved in the business, you receive income from the percentage of the business you still hold.

For others it might mean that you realize what you have built has definite value, both the financial as well as the reputation you have built, but you have no family members to bring into the firm. Then begin looking for someone who would be the right “fit” for your firm and also be interested in eventually purchasing the business, or as above, will purchase a portion of the business and take over the reins of active involvement while you still own a percentage and share in revenues relative to that percentage.

Whether the name of your firm includes your name or not, the firm can live long after you walk away and can act as not only a financial legacy for your family but may also be a legacy represented by the reputation of your firm, the design work your firm creates and the specific culture that identifies your firm.

“My buildings will be my legacy… they will speak for me long after I’m gone.” Julia Morgan The word “buildings” could easily be replaced by “design” in Julia Morgan’s quote to apply to the legacy for which you might wish to be known.

Your legacy does not have to be just financial, but also the impact of your design on your clients’ lives as well as the relationships your firm establishes with your clients.

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