When everything is said and done, you can't take money with you, you can't take your possessions, and you certainly can't take your business with you. What goes with you is your legacy. The reputation you developed, the memories you created for others, and the stories of your business actions left behind are really all you can take with you to the next life.

So what does this have to do with your current small business or your entrepreneurial ventures? I would like to argue that it means everything. The legacy you are creating now has enormous scope in three different ways:

  1. Your legacy you create now, and continually cultivate, follows you around as you do business and live your life.
  2. Your legacy is the most significant thing you will leave behind for others.
  3. Your legacy is really all that stays with you for an eternity. 

I have created four guidelines to follow so you may develop a legacy management program:

1. Fully integrate into your professional development and business planning.

Similar to cultivating and improving your emotional intelligence or developing and following an ethics policy, you should formalize a process to continually monitor and improve your legacy you will live with, leave behind, and take with you for an eternity.

Simply make components of your legacy development part of the your formal plans. Let's suppose a Year One objective would be to increase profit 10 percent for your business.

Now, add Year One legacy objectives that will coincide with a vision for the long term. Just like you do in business, make them feasible, quality, and measurable. For example, add to your Year One goals: three community service activities, five special family experiences (outside normal activities and holidays), a random act of kindness everyday, and a few more that are meaningful and customized to you.

2. Help create a security blanket for your loved ones.

Is there really anything more important than this? If you are hit by a truck, and heaven forbid, the worst happens, is your family set without you? 

If you take to heart a legacy development mindset, you will make sure that this component, is always covered. Hand-in-hand with this, naturally, is the reputation you have now and might leave behind, and how it affects your loved ones.

Could there be anything worse than having your family deal with your poor reputation every day? Or if you to leave behind a sketchy reputation that your family would have to deal with?

3. Generate more business opportunities, and become better equipped to handle problems.

Karma baby. Living by the Golden Rule.

If you continue to positively shape your legacy, it will reward you. Let me illustrate through an example I live with every day.

As a teacher, I really love my job and the passion comes out; students see it, feel it, and experience it. More importantly, the students know it.

Students can tell who cares and who is wish-washy, doesn't care, or is just going through the proverbial motions. Students know I care and in turn, that helps me enormously as I try to help them. It becomes a closed loop of trust and caring.

If you truly care and try in a heartfelt way to create a grand legacy, others you do business with will see it, sense it, and feel it. You will develop for your business a wonderful loop of passion and sincerity. With this, better opportunities will arise, and problems will be much easier to solve.

4. Intensely strengthen your self image and self worth.

You will buoy and boost your self esteem when you apply to your actions the thought of improving your long term, grand legacy.

Nurturing your legacy, periodically watching and enjoying it blossoming into really cool moments, such as achieving a family goal of a son graduating college, does wonders for your self image and feelings of self worth.

Achieving legacy-boosting business goals will motivate and rejuvenate you as you grind, work, and innovate. Imagine the feeling of gaining a connection at a charity event you support, which turns into a strategic alliance for your business. The good act to help your legacy, helps your business, and you revel in the self worth created.

If you work to create a positive legacy, you will sleep well at night and for an eternity be fulfilled. And that's a wonderful thing.