Having a sense of meaning is essential for a man or woman to successfully retire or exit their family business.
According to songwriter Paul Simon, there are 50 ways to leave your lover. If you’re the owner of a business, however, there are only 9 ways to leave the business you love:
1. Transition leadership to the next generation.
2. Manager buy-out.
3. ESOP … employee stock ownership plan.
4. Sell to an unknown third party via a business broker.
5. Sell to a known buyer in your industry.
6. Sell to a private equity firm.
7. Sell stock and take your company public.
8. Hire a manager to perform your activities but keep taking your salary.
9. Liquidate and close the doors.
96 percent of Baby Boomer business owners agree having an exit strategy is important — but 87 percent do not have a written plan, according to a study conducted by White Horse Advisors and Vistage International. Any of the 9 ways listed can serve as an Exit Strategy but overlooked by 90% of people retiring or exiting their business is having an Enter Strategy.
What will you do after you exit your family-owned business or retire? Playing golf, traveling or fishing are all good activities but not 24/7.
Leisure is not more fulfilling than work. Post-exit heart attacks and bouts with depression are extremely common. That’s why almost 25% of people who exit their business without an enter strategy say they’re unhappy. If a man or woman has no sense of meaning, they will fail in their attempt to numb themselves with pleasure.
What should be your Enter Strategy after exiting the family business or retiring? Viktor Frankl, M.D. Ph.D., author of Man’s Search for Meaning, offers three recommendations, which I recently came across in Donald Miller’s new book Scarry Close. As it turns out, I have successfully implemented all three.
1. Have a project to work on, some reason to get out of bed in the morning and preferably something that serves other people.
Exit #8 above is a fast and simple way to enter a new phase of your life. Take a 2-week vacation to a quiet location (not Disneyworld), to create a list of entry strategy ideas. Rent a cabin in the woods. Find a quiet beach.
A good resource I used to get entry strategy ideas was visit VolunteerMatch.org. This zip code specific web site can identify one or more ways you can give of your time to find meaning.
I retired from the University of Texas at Arlington in July 2013, where I served as Director of the Small Business Development Center. After a short vacation I redirected my time to re-engineering my business web site with the help of Jacs Gardner, developed the BullsEye 1-page strategic plan system, began writing LegacyLine … how to tell your story with a timeline, and used training from the Family Business Advisor Institute to learn how to help family-owned businesses transition leadership.
2. Have a redemptive perspective on life’s challenges. That is, when something difficult happens, recognize the ways that difficulty also serves you.
We are only as deep as the depths we’ve overcome. After retirement I created a timeline of my life, starting at birth until my retirement date. I named it my LegacyLine. Doing so revealed both the peaks and the valleys I have experienced. Pondering those events revealed lessons and legacies I now share with my daughter, grandsons and people I meet who are walking through a valley I’ve already experienced.
3. Share your life with a person or people who love you unconditionally. To get meaning you must give meaning to others.
Of Frankl’s three recommendations, this was the easiest for me. Why? Because I am blessed to have Sue, who has loved me unconditionally as her husband of 46+ years. She gives me past, present and future meaning.
“I’m noticing a common characteristic of healthy families. The characteristic is this: kids with parents who are honest about their shortcomings seem to do better in life.”
I believe this quote from Donald Miller’s book Scary Close is a good way to end and summarize this blog. If you don’t have an Exit or Enter Strategy for your business or career, admit it. Seek 2 or 3 people who have successfully exited and entered a new life of meaning to learn how they did it. I would be honored to be one of those people.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]