Entrepreneur – What Will Your Legacy Be?
When well-known people or people we know well pass away, it reminds us of our own mortality and often makes us think about what our own legacy will be. Have you thought about your legacy? What do you want to be remembered for?
I recently wrote an article entitled, “Entrepreneur? Why Did You Do It“? The article was meant to remind myself and my fellow entrepreneurs of why we took the leap into entrepreneurship. One of the reasons I mentioned in the article had to do with leaving our mark on the world. What does that mean? The meaning is likely different for each one of us.
What “mark” do you want to leave on the world? As entrepreneurs we have the opportunity to use our ingenuity, perseverance and drive to leave a mark in areas beyond those who don’t select entrepreneurship as their professional pursuit. Most everyone I know, entrepreneur or not, wants to be remembered for how they contributed to and cared for their close friends and family. They may also want to make contributions to their places and “families” of worship. They may even invest considerable time and money in charities, in hopes of helping and leaving their mark. In short, they want to make a difference in many areas of their lives. They want their lives to “matter”.
If you are an entrepreneur, you have an opportunity to have your life and your legacy matter in other areas as well. You can create employment opportunities. You can create and improve products and services that help people. You can use your leadership and management skills to help others to improve themselves. You can help better the overall economic state of your community, country and world. You can do so many positive things as an entrepreneur that the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination, your ingenuity, your drive and your willpower. What do you want your legacy to be?
Let’s take a brief look at some of the highlights of Steve Jobs’ legacy, as an illustration of the impact just one entrepreneur can make. The focus here will be on his contributions to the world of business and entrepreneurship, though I’m sure the mark he left on the world goes far beyond these areas.
In starting Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs did not just start a computer company to rival the likes of IBM and Microsoft. Rather, he started a movement. He started and left a large community of passionate and loyal users. Many would say that their level of passion and enthusiasm for Apple’s computer products was almost cult-like. And that was BEFORE the introduction of the Iphone, Ipod and Ipad, which really brought Apple into the mainstream and started a period of extraordinary growth in its user base, revenues and profitability. Amazingly, Jobs and his team did all this without alienating their original cult following on the creative side!
So what was Steve Jobs’ legacy and how can we learn from it? Just looking at his accomplishments at Apple, forgetting what he did at Pixar, the company that actually made him a billionaire, we can say that Jobs’ legacy cuts across many functional areas of business. His iconic products left an indelible mark on product design. His innovative promotional campaigns left a major mark on marketing, particularly where it involves forward thinking to take on entrenched, well-funded competitors. His singular focus and unique style taught us many lessons in leadership and creating a loyal following. Finally, his desire and drive to run Apple until shortly before his death demonstrated dedication and commitment to finishing what he started.
Not all of us are as fortunate as Steve Jobs, in that not all of us have the extraordinary vision and talent he had to make such an enormous impact. That said though, each of us can, in or own way as entrepreneurs, make a major impact and leave our mark on the world. What do you want your legacy to be? I encourage you not to wait to think it through. Life is short. Do some thinking. Make some decisions and get started on creating your legacy, as an entrepreneur, and beyond. Think big. There is no reason not to. I’m sure Steve Jobs would have agreed.
I look forward to your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.
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