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The Legacy Center has been and will continue to be a labor of love. It started with an insight and continues to grow and thrive due to the love and care of many people. Has it been a straight line to the top? No, it’s been a spiraling, evolutionary journey-that has only just begun!

Peg Stookey saw a need in 2005. She’d been working with formerly employed people in career transition to help them 1) Decide if franchising was right for them, 2) Find the right franchise 3) Get connected in Cincinnati as they started their new business. The word started getting out about this last piece and soon, non-franchised business owners were calling to “get connected”.

In late spring of 2005 Peg got a phone call. One of her colleagues asked if she’d be interested in presenting her business plan on a cable TV show and in front of five professionals; a banker, marketing consultant, accountant, attorney and business coach. Not one to shy away from an opportunity Peg said yes. She was then told that the recording would take place in less than a month! Well, like many, Peg had been working on the plan but it was not near complete.  She scrambled, hired a CFO to look at the numbers and was as ready as could be by video day.

Peg laid out her plan to “connect” small business owners with the resources they needed. It was captivating. It was brilliant. It was Legacy Connection, LLC. Praises came from all sides plus….an invitation to a fateful lunch. While dining, the marketing consultant asked Peg a few critical questions and suggested another approach. Her response, “Funny you should say that, your idea is already in my plan as Stage 2.” Stage 2 was to create a community of small business owners and their necessary resource providers. Unlike most networking groups, the purpose of the Legacy Community would be to provide continuous support, education, accountability and connection; not just networking and referral opportunities.

At nearly the same time and on another plane: Peg had learned a lot about franchising in her years as a broker/consultant. She was at lunch one day in early 2005 with an editor of the Business Courier. They talked about the failure rates of small business owners and Peg mentioned that if more independent business owners followed some of the principles of franchising, they’d see more success. The editor invited her to write a story about it. The first principle was…community! When a franchisee signs their contract they are instantly surrounded by an intentional community. Some of the other principles were/are due diligence (intentional research) prior to decision, initial training, continued education, attention to brand, documented systems, accountability, awareness (the prospective and early stage franchisee have the advantage of knowing more about what is coming because of what other franchisees have been through), the power of “we”, in business for yourself but not by yourself, and more.

Coupling this with the business plan event, Peg decided to put the connecting piece on hold and create the Legacy Community. Our first meeting was in October of 2006 and we’ve been meeting on the first Thursday of the month ever since.

Peg could have focused on growing membership but her interests soon went in another direction-education. She genuinely believes that failure rates would be significantly lowered if there was more attention to early training and the continuous development of the business owner. She also knows business owners very well. One reason they left the corporate world is to escape things like required training. So, her quest has been in how to sneak it in on them! Business owners like to come together so all of our events, virtual and in-person, contain a connecting component as well as a lift-as-you-climb philosophy, i.e. we are all learners and teachers.

In 2009, Peg developed The Legacy Cycle. This was an important insight and one that could only come from years of working WITH business owners. Most business development models use a sigmoid or “S” curve to describe the growth of a business. Peg felt that the problem with that was 1) they don’t put an emphasis on pre-start due diligence and planning and 2) they result in a reactionary approach to growth, i.e., if the numbers aren’t going well, change is now needed (but necessarily planned for). In the Legacy Cycle model, innovation is a required, proactive part of growth, not a reaction to problems. Similarly, due diligence in the Discovery stage is also required. Furthermore, by viewing entrepreneurial development as a cycle we can see that it’s not just a view of overall growth that’s important but also the creation and growth of new ideas, products, services, internal innovations, relationships, etc. that drive the overall growth of the organization (and of the leader).

In later 2010, Peg was working with a client on the creation of her senior citizen related business. They were working through a process of business model creation when the client got stuck. In exasperation, not with the client but with her inability to properly communicate, Peg drew a stick figure. That crude drawing became the Anatomy of Success which Peg uses to help people create and strategize change, start-up and growth. As of this writing, Peg has taught several people how to use the Anatomy of Success to supplement their coaching practices and is in the process of licensing it so that many more can benefit from its simple brilliance (we say humbly).

The Legacy Cycle and the Anatomy of Success have become important tools for entrepreneurial leadership development and for the development of the business. This dual approach is important and sets us apart. Executive coaches work on the person. Business coaches largely work on the business. We don’t see how they can be separated but if we had to, our emphasis would always sway toward the leader. Businesses can falter or even fail; leaders need to be prepared to pick things back up and start creating again. Another “duality” can be found in our approach to development. We have readiness programs that address preparation for change, beginning and even, the exit stage, as well as the development cycle which ensures that, once started, the business, and the leader, continue to grow and evolve.

In 2011, Peg made a big decision and moved into an office, having previously been working from home and using flex space for their meetings. She invited her colleague, Beth Bullock to join her. Beth brought a necessary balance to Peg’s work as an accountant and small business bookkeeping specialist. Soon, more and more people joined them. A sense of “place” was developing (Peg had had previous training on sense of place so is very aware of the concept). Maybe a name change would be in order? Later in 2011, that was confirmed and they started the arduous process of rebranding to The Legacy Center for Entrepreneurial Development.

2012 brought another critical insight. While the work that Peg and the rest of the Legacy team were doing was important and well-received, it was a difficult sell. Small business owners simply don’t have discretionary money to spend on education. Nor do the people in transition that Peg is so passionate about helping. Yet, the need is so critical. Reversing the 80% failure rate trend can be life changing or saving for a family. It’s by no accident that most organizations that help small business owners are either non-profit or government sponsored. And while we have great respect for them we feel that two things are very important: 1) that we operate as a for-profit so that we know what our clients go through, 2) that our principle team members and trainers are also building businesses.

Our latest initiative is to take the advice of one of Peg’s colleagues and utilize the retraining money that is offered to some people in career transition. This is a game changer for us and for our clients. The Employee-to-Entrepreneur Certificate program takes all that we’ve learned and accomplished and packages is it in a proactive, purposeful learning program that also results in the “doing” of pre-launch. Our certificate clients create their business model, strategize start-up, make decisions and prepare for launch as they are learning to be entrepreneurial leaders, strategists and decision-makers.  What happens after the launch? Well, that’s when our very established community approach to entrepreneurial development kicks in. Small and large groups; masterminds, seminars, webinars and workshops are all part of our continued entrepreneurial education mission. Of course, some of our clients decide that business ownership is not right for them. We applaud their intentional decision and do everything we can to help them prepare for job search by using their new “entrepreneurial” skills.

What’s next? We’re taking it all full circle and applying much of what we know about entrepreneurial development and working with franchises to help their franchisees be even more successful. Then……Our vision is to put it all online and be able to help employees around the world to transform into Legacy entrepreneurs! Stay tuned!

NOTE: While our history certainly revolves around the vision, passion and diligence of our founder, Peg Stookey, none of this would be possible without her many advisers, clients, members, strategic partners, trainers, virtual support staff and even….the many interns that have graced our halls. All have contributed and will continue to do so. Our business model is unique in that it is designed for strategic collaboration. Nearly all that we associate with are business owners who also have the passion and skill for entrepreneurial development. The Legacy Center is a special place where we embody the power of “WE”! We invite you to drop in or give us a shout!

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