PERSPECTIVE AND POSTERITY
Building Your Legacy to Last
Business With Aloha
- A – ala, watchfulness, alertness
- L – lokahi, working with unity
- O – oia’i’o, truth and honesty
- H – ha’aha’a, humility
- A – ahonui, patient perseverance
What is your end game? Does your social enterprise have a fixed goal. For example to stop a polluting coal mine? Or is it open-ended? For example, reducing religious fanaticism.
With a fixed goal if you succeed, you have the joy of ending your social enterprise for it is no longer needed. Mission Accomplished! Now you can try to improve the world in another way if you so desire!
If your social enterprise has no clear end in sight then you build it for the long term. One of the best ways to do this is to work yourself out of a job! As your business matures you should have developed systems and processes so that the enterprise is not dependent upon one or two persons.
When you are involved in an economic activity that is making a difference, whether it be by social goals or environmental, you can slow down and relax into the pleasures that make living on this planet such a wonderful thing.
So we recommend very strongly that in order for it to be truly sustainable an owner should work themselves out of a job! The more your sustainable enterprise depends on you to keep it going the less chance it will have of surviving if you have an accident.
Owners should not be Managers.
One of the main problems with any social business enterprise is that they are often too dependent on the dreams, energy, input, and passion of the Owner who founded the community. When a community is too dependent upon the Owner/Founder it suffers for the following reasons:
- Not truly sustainable. Once something catastrophic happens to the Owner the community dies.
- Owner Dependency. If there are no policies and practices that can be followed in the Owner’s absence, then the community is completely dependent on the Owner. When the Owner is always having to manage there is risk of “burnout”, the burden of running the community simply becomes too much year after year.
- Owner Emotionalism. An Owner is often very emotional about their “baby”. This can lead to problems in Customer Service as an Owner can behave very differently than a Manager would when answering questions about their community.
This is why it is necessary to have a Manager. Having a Manager(s) is essential for a truly sustainable community. A good Manager is involved but also detached for it is not their “baby”. As well, by having a Manager, the Owner is encouraged to develop a managerial system that allows for professional codes of conduct and behavior that can easily be followed when the owner is not around.
Create a System of Social Enterprise Guidelines and Rules
When you create a ‘system’, a training manual that covers all aspects of your business you are in effect making your legacy and will!
As our business has grown and met each different challenge we have changed problems into solutions. And we wrote guidelines about the most challenging problems we faced so that future managers would have rules and guidelines to prevent them or professionally deal with them if they occurred again.
Everything from fraudulent managers to government inspectors, our social enterprise community has faced many challenges and turned ‘shit to sugar’, we tried to find opportunity and ‘teaching moments’ in every challenge we face and our business has survived and grown as a result.
For the first three years or so, your presence will be crucial to grow and make all the foundation decisions that establish your social enterprise. But from the first moment that you can, you should be trying to get away and let the managers run it.
For posterity, your job as you head into retirement, is to set up a legal and business structure that will ensure the continuity of your enterprise if you fall seriously ill or pass away.
Depending on the enterprise or your needs you could then establish it as a non-profit, a private foundation or corporation. If you have children who support the goals of your social enterprise you can leave it in your will for them.
Odds are if you have a spouse or life partner then they probably share at least some of the goals of your enterprise. So they should have legal status in the company.
For your enterprise to be truly sustainable, it should be able to continue and grow after your eventual demise. Having an entity that continues to do good work long after you have passed is definitely one of the finer legacies you can wish for. Much better than a fancy tombstone! It even allows you to leave a sustainable legacy after the founder passes away.
As Community Director of Hedonisia, I’m slowly preparing all my feminist enterprise businesses with the legal and relationship infrastructure to continue on after me. It provides closure and meaning to a life well lived 🙂 Much better than a tombstone!
Being part of the solution to the world’s problems is one way to give long term meaning to your life experience.
What if my Activist Enterprise turns into a corporation? Aren’t they the epitome of ‘evil big business’?
If your enterprise does grow it could eventually become a big corporation. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Many large corporations and government offices are also interested in working for positive change. They realize their organizations have clout and are continually searching for ideas on how to deliver their goods or services in ways that are more efficient and that promote ‘human’ values.
So in contrast the the past, now employees who are interested and dedicated are rewarded if they engage in certain idealistic pursuits. Also large corporations are open to consumer campaigns and boycotts. In fact, one could argue that a corporation is more vulnerable to a boycott than a politician. Many big corporations have become increasingly responsive to public pressure so our argument would be to keep up the pressure to make corporations behave in ways that are more sensitive to people and the planet.
Community Principles, Policies & Practices for Posterity!
As we teach in Personal Balance, the owner of a social enterprise should always be trying to ensure that the business is truly sustainable.
As Hedonisia matures, I want to devote more time to the other 90% of our projects that will create long term stability for our community as well as developing the infrastructure so that it will continue to survive and prosper in the event of any disasters!
A lot of what we know about community living and what we’ve adopted as policy or guidelines has been derived from, or inspired by, other community models. By living in, visiting, or simply respecting other community models, we are able to further solidify Hedonisia’s community model so that our community can continue to evolve.
- SPACE Market School, consensus-based decision making
- Kalani Non-profit with a board
- Banana Boys Two owners, simple intentional gay community, pleasure based
- Hare Krishna Their political model is community, but with a spiritual, cult-like adherence to rules and daily communal practices
- Cinderland and Sumland Much more anarchy-based, but with a community leader
- The Hawaiian Sanctuary Owned by a couple
- Laakea and Polestar Spiritual-based and permaculture education community.
- Pohoiki Organics Few rules, alcohol-based, no leadership ‘community’
Eighty percent of intentional communities that continue to function long-term have been organized as LLC’s. Other possibilities include non-profit and cooperative models.