Have you crunched the numbers for the next phase of your life? When asked about our plans for retirement, most of us jump right into a financial discussion. We think of tax-advantaged saving mechanisms and managing and building the value of our financial assets and businesses. These are all great ways for business owners to prepare for a financially secure retirement, yet financial security is only one element of a meaningful and happy retirement.
As a business transition specialist, I know that a business transition is not truly successful unless it preserves your relationships with the people who are important to you. That’s why I believe that a business succession plan is your best retirement plan.
Business Transition as a Launchpad
The day you leave your business is so much more than the end of an era. It’s the beginning of a new era—or a launchpad-—for you, your family, successor, employees, customers, and community. A thoughtfully planned and intentional transition increases the odds that yours will be a successful transition. And by successful, I mean that you achieve most of your transition objectives, your successor is prepared to lead, and your important relationships are healthy.
It’s More Than Money
Of course, financial security in retirement is important and, if one of your goals is to reap a positive return on the investment of time, energy, and money that you put into your company, we work to achieve that goal—but never at the expense of your relationships with the people who are important to you.
Business Transition Is Not a Place Where Relationships Go to Die
We’ve all heard the sad stories of relationships among family members irretrievably broken as a result of a business transition. Shattered relationships are not an inevitable transition outcome. Instead, owners who do the work and give themselves a long runway to plan and orchestrate a transition greatly increase the odds that their retirement will be one more chapter in lives lived with purpose and filled with the people who are important to them and activities they enjoy.
Hold Your Head High
I spoke recently with a former owner who had executed several transitions during his career. He described the difference between his last and earlier transitions this way. “The other day I ran into a former client in the grocery store who stopped to tell me how well my successor was taking care of them. It made my day to know that I can be out in my community confident that the employees who helped me grow the company and the clients we served are in good hands.”
A Business Succession Plan is Your Best Retirement Plan
There’s more to a meaningful life after business ownership than a healthy balance sheet. You’ve conducted your business according to your vision and values, and I urge you to bring that vision and those values to your business transition. When you do, you’ll appreciate that a business succession plan is your best retirement plan.
To help you envision the timing for your unique business transition journey, we’ve developed a list of questions. Click here to access it and start your thoughtful strategy for the next phase of your life. Only you can determine whether this is a good time for you to begin transition planning. From long experience, however, we can tell you that the more time you give yourself to plan the more options you have.
Elizabeth Ledoux is a co-author of the award-winning It’s A Journey: The MUST-HAVE Roadmap to Successful Succession Planning, as well as Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Flight and Understanding the Growth of the Entrepreneur. She frequently speaks to organizations and business owners about challenges and opportunities in private and family business transitions, business and individual growth, and the business succession journey.