Business owner? Top tips to make your legacy a book

As a business owner, you’re probably wondering how you can impact more people while increasing awareness about yourself and your business. Writing a book is a long-lasting investment. It’s a great way to add more ‘Launch” events to your calendar and add more products to your portfolio. In this article, Megan Fleming gives 10 golden tips to help help you get started.

Megan Fleming
Business owner talks about her book at a local event

Megan Fleming is the Lead Editor at Victory Vision Publishing. Her love of literature and clean copy emerged when she began editing full-time in 2020, and she has since been able to use her experience in MLA, Chicago, AP, and APA styles. Megan and her husband Adam live in a small midwestern town and have four children. Megan enjoys making her own art, gardening, pursuing a master’s degree, and reading fiction in between the cracks.

Let’s get legacy straight

The first thing to do if you want to make your business journey into a book is to take time to think about the question of legacy. The term can be taken two ways: the legacy you are creating now, with your products and services, and the legacy you wish to leave, by preserving the story for future generations.
Let’s settle what we mean when we talk about “legacy.”

My husband Adam coaches executives at large corporations and hears his clients use the word “legacy” in a way that refers to “a holdover from the way it was.” For example, “This way of doing this thing is a legacy policy from the previous CEO.” This often carries a connotation that the hold-over policy is undesirable and will be changed as soon as the slowly turning cogs of corporate management address it, but the legacy we’re talking about here is nothing negative.

“The legacy we’re talking about here is nothing negative.”

The dictionary defines legacy as either akin to “inheritance” in terms of money or property; or “something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past,” and akin to “heritage.” Interestingly, this definition is from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition. Just like our language use is handed down through the generations, our corporate values, the way we conduct internal communications, the policies of affecting our customers, and yes, our financial success are all ways our company can impact the further owners and operators. But it goes further: what your company stands for and the success of maintaining happy employees and customers leaves a lasting impact on whole industries.

Writing that book

Now, let’s define a “book.” Some of you may be envisioning a sleek paperback with a smart cover design, organized like any number of business books out there. That is one option; but at the core, we are talking about getting your entrepreneurship story into a great story form. And that means the book might be a series of blog posts that get published eventually; it could be a photo record of your company’s history, staff, products, and milestones, with descriptions; or a book could be your own “Top Ten” self-help guide for those in your industry, using your company as the basis for the insights. As long as the content includes examples that show the readers now and in the future what impact your enterprise has on people, your industry, society, and the environment, your book will capture your company’s legacy. In turn, the book ought to help the legacy self-perpetuate, by increasing your book of business.

A business owner is interviewed about the book and her legacy

How we inherited a legacy

Adam and I run a self-publishing service company called Victory Vision Publishing. But we aren’t the founders: we inherited it from the founder, Julie Ballard. Before her entrepreneurship success, Julie was so deep into addiction, that she blacked out on the street and was left for dead. Miraculously, something aroused her and got her moving towards the nearest rehab center. Another string of divine appointments got her connected with an influential leader who told her she should write and publish her life story. “But I can’t write!” she protested. Despite her concerns, in a few months, she not only got her story down, but she also learned the ropes of self-publishing. Others with survival stories began coming out of the woodwork, seeking her help, and her clients grew into a fledgling business.

Fast-forward three years, and Julie is now pursuing her passion for helping recovering addicts and training leaders. She passed her company onto us so she could do more boots-on-the-ground work. We are honored and privileged to uphold her legacy of guiding those with courageous, heart-breaking personal stories of healing through the process of finding victory in getting their story to the world in a published book.

While your company’s story may not have a dramatic founder’s story like ours, it does have a story.

A business owner is writing her book and her legacy

Getting started

So, without further ado, here are the ten tips on writing your legacy:

1. Take some time to process your legacy.

This may require hiring a legacy coach who can walk you through the following set of legacy goal questions: 

L – Lifetime What do you hope to build that can live beyond your lifetime? As the famed speaker Simon Sinek says, “What IS the Infinite Game?” What is your infinite game?

E – Excellence  – What excellence is required, in both skill and character?

G – Generative What are you making that’s new in the world?

A – Audience or Avatar Who are you making it for?

C – Core Values Why do you care about this thing? 

Y – Yield   In the sense of the word that means “crop or harvest,” how will it feed you and fund your second planting season?

In the sense of the word, that means “to give way to someone or something,” who will take over when you’re gone?

2. Take time to find examples of the type of book you want to publish.

Check the internet; bookstores; or the library. As mentioned above, you have flexibility on what form the publication takes. What type of book will work well for the story you have to tell?

3. Based on the answer to Tip #2, decide on your audience.

Who needs to hear this story? Is it primarily for family and friends, or a broader network? Is it for future leaders in your industry?

4. Decide if you can write the first draft yourself or if you need a ghostwriter.

Maybe you, like Julie, are saying, “But I don’t write!” Maybe you want to do what she did and dive in any way (fake it ‘til you make it). You could ask a couple of stakeholders to contribute and work as a team. Or, you can always hire someone to write it for you.

5. Interview key players.

You may realize the best stories are from the generation before you—maybe a grandmother or great-uncle—or even from your kids. Take time to find those inspiring examples that will make your company history engaging.

6. Schedule a regular time to write.

Decide if you will set aside a 20-minute block; an hour a week; or a whole weekend retreat to knock out the first draft. Then put it on your calendar, and stick to it. Commit, and be consistent.

7. Tell the people in your life.

As with any goal, setting out to write a book takes the support of those around you. Make them aware of your project, and don’t be afraid to ask them to support you in specific ways. For instance, you may need to request to move certain scheduled events that impact friends or family members to get time to write.

8. Join a writer’s group.

One sure way to keep you from getting stuck is to join a group where a coach can help you set and stay on track with goals, while having fellow writers share and celebrate successes (and commiserate on your woes).

9. Get beta readers.

Have trusted people read your drafts and ask for feedback. Choose those who will be candid with you about what can be improved, as well as what is working.

10. Research which publishing method suits you and your project.

Do you want to query a traditional publisher? Or self-publish? A good place to start to answer this is to read our blog, Traditional, Hybrid, and Self-Publishing: Which Model is Best for You?

*The purpose of this page is solely to provide information and should not be considered as financial advice.
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice; you should consult a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.