One of the absolute certainties for business owners – besides taxes – is that they will eventually exit. In his book Finish Big, author Bo Burlingham notes that one of the keys for owners to have what he deems a “good exit” is that they “discover a new sense of purpose outside of their businesses.”
Few owners spend enough time contemplating what life will look like after they exit their business. As a result, they often find themselves without purpose and even becoming slightly depressed. They have spent so many years being the leader, the person people came to with problems that needed to be solved, and the person making decisions, that when they are removed from this environment they’re not sure what to do.
Below are a few activities we have seen owners partake in after their exit that help keep them active and engaged:
Hobbies can be a great way to hone a new or existing skill or interest. While owning and running a business, people seldom have time to allocate to their hobbies. Using your newfound freedom to pursue those leisurely interests, which can be anything from travelling the world to playing golf, is a great way to occupy some of your time and maintain social interactions.
Businesses of all sizes are always looking for some level of guidance and support. Lending your experience and knowledge to boards of other companies can help them become more successful. It can also be a great way to stay engaged and leverage the skills and knowledge you acquired throughout your career.
Private companies generally have either a more formal fiduciary board of directors or a less formal advisory board.
A fiduciary board of directors has more structure. It will meet more regularly and have sub-committees to address different aspects of the business such as audit, compensation, strategy, and finance. These positions are frequently compensated and members are often other business owners and key management or family.
An advisory board is less formal. It often meets on a regular basis, but does not necessarily have the structure of various sub-committees. In addition to key management, advisory board members often consist of other professional advisors, such as the company’s attorney, accountant, banker, or financial advisor. These positions may or may not be compensated.
Business owners often make a trade-off between the time required to run the business and time spent with family, especially in the early years when the business demands so many hours to get it off the ground and running. This can be a difficult compromise, particularly when owners have young children. Life after transition will allow owners to make up for some lost time with their family. Since their children are often grown and busy with their careers, we commonly see people spending more time with grandchildren or simply moving closer to their families.
Starting a New Business
It is often hard to squelch the entrepreneurial spirit and it is not uncommon to see owners embark on a new venture. This time around, there isn’t the same amount of pressure for the venture to be successful nor the worry about where the capital will come from. This often gives an owner a renewed sense of purpose and helps to keep the mind active and sharp.
There is not one “right” answer when exiting; we see owners allocating their time in a variety of ways. Spending time to contemplate what you will do after your transition will greatly increase your overall satisfaction as well as the likelihood of getting the transition completed.