What will you do after you transition away from your business? That’s the big question for many entrepreneurs. For most employed individuals, who have ‘normal’ work lives, the answer is easier: outside of work, they have sports, hobbies, family activities, projects around the house, volunteer roles and travel aspirations.
Most owners have had little time to focus on alternate pursuits as they grew their businesses through bad times when they had to hunker down to make it through the next crisis and good times when they had to think about recruiting, hiring, training and managing new staff. Lots of owners think about their business 24/7, considering the multitude of issues that impact their business, employees, customers, products and suppliers. They imagine the future of the business and where it could go. They are not thinking about retirement.
So when I ask owners “What’s next?” they get that deer in the headlights look. They have little or no idea. They are not motivated to consider transitioning their company when they can think of nothing better to do with their time. And then one day they wake up and ‘suddenly’ they are 65 (even 75) years old with no plan for what to do in retirement. Without a plan, and little motivation to make one, habits and momentum carry them back to the office, holding steadfast to the status quo.
As long as you are capable of the work, enjoy what you’re doing, feel like you’re making a contribution, and have a purpose that is driving you, well, why not. On the other hand, there may be storms on the horizon and putting your head in the sand won’t make them go away. What if any of the following were to happen:
- You become disabled and unable to work?
- You die and leave a financial, legal, or employee mess for your family to clean up?
- We have another recession like 2009?
- Your biggest customer, your best managers, or a major supplier leaves?
- Your bank pulls your credit?
- A close family member dies?
- You simply run out of steam and no longer want to go to work?
Any of these could be disastrous for both you and your business. Then what? You’ll be scrambling to figure out what’s next when you may no longer have the energy, time or mental capacity to make the necessary changes.
So regardless of your age, NOW is the best time to work on “what’s next?” Make time to imagine the future and decide what you want. Then pursue it with the same enthusiasm you had for your business in the early days. Take the lead.