Admit it. Your business is your pride and joy, second only in importance to your family and closest friends. You’ve nurtured it, sacrificed for it, and painstakingly infused into it all of your passion and the best part of your personality. You know that the desire to be in business and an earnest work ethic are not enough alone to guarantee your business’ long-term success. The question is how do you ensure that your business will outlast your founder’s touch and yet maintain your vision and passion?

Most successful business owners will agree that in order to enjoy raging success in business, things must be done in the right sequence. You can water a garden daily, but if you fail to plant seeds first, the garden will grow only weeds. So before you spend the time to develop a strong business model, write that winning business plan, choose just the right business structure, or even so much as draft your mission statement, you must achieve absolute clarity on a number of issues that are guaranteed to ultimately make or break your legacy. Clarity on these issues is critical, especially if you have a team to assist you in starting or running your business in any significant way.

Key issues must be identified that are critical for the business to accomplish its goals in the marketplace, including marketing, accounting, and order fulfillment, etc. You must fully understand how these business processes relate to one another within the corporate structure, and to your core values and beliefs, and then align your management team to properly develop, prioritize and carry out each of these business processes. In this way, as the business grows, the systems and processes of daily operations become steeped in the founder’s core values and beliefs. This will ensure that your passion remains inviolate, will identify areas where the company’s processes are likely to be weak (because they are undersupported by your core values and beliefs), and will ensure the integrity of the company’s mission and the consistency of its product or service.

You may wonder how this can be accomplished. Suppose, for example, that Bob, your customer service manager, is constantly complaining that your business would be a wonderful place to work if it weren’t for those bothersome customers that keep coming around. He prefers to hide in the store room where he keeps the inventory up to date and the entire place well organized.

Perhaps Bob is the right person in the wrong position.

Employment personality tests are a valuable tool for gaining insights into the interaction style, character traits, and behavioral patterns of individuals. The tests will assess the aspects of a person’s personality that remain stable throughout an individual’s lifetime, and that are relevant to their job performance. In this way you can predict whether an employee or potential hire will be a long-term asset, or a short-term liability. The tests will help you find a comfortable fit for that individual within your company’s structure that will utilize their natural skills and challenge them to develop new capacities.

Of course, assembling a winning team is but one important step in creating a lasting corporate legacy. A leader’s ability to communicate their vision to their team, to anticipate consumer tastes and trends, and to innovate accordingly is critical, and can be somewhat ethereal. Apple spoke lovingly of Steve Jobs, the company’s recently fallen leader, and of his true genius, in a press release. “Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.” Many of Jobs’ core team members were with him for Apple’s entire journey. He was a master at finding people who understood and shared his vision and then stepping out of their way and letting them do their thing. He definitely did his part. It remains to be seen whether his team will hold true to his dynamic corporate legacy in the months and years to come.

© 2011. All Rights Reserved. Shaune B. Arnold, Esq. is a practicing attorney, business strategist and business coach. Contact her directly at Shaune@BusinessBootCampOnline.com. This article is intended for information purposes only. All legal issues should be considered in light of the particular circumstances involved. If you have legal questions, you should consult with an attorney.