“Time passes whether I stand still or move.”

Three Ways Owners Know It’s Time to Start Planning a Business Transition - The transition strategists - clock
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“Time passes whether I stand still or move.”

Anne Barngrover

Poet and author

When I read “Time passes whether I stand still or move,” I thought about the owners who were running their companies in 2008 and have the battle scars to prove it. Sometimes and unfortunately, however, scars can prevent them from sensing the three shifts (see my last post) that tell them it’s time to start planning their journeys out of their companies. They are:

  1. A slight shift in their feelings.
  2. A desire to do something different.
  3. A potential successor who feels (or is) ready to take the reins.

Many owners who lived and led through 2008 had received these signals and understandably did not (or could not) plan or execute their transitions out of their companies.

Time Passes

Owners who were 50 years old in 2008 are 65 today and owners who were 60 then are 75 now. For all these owners, time has passed, yet too many are standing still.

In the past 15 years, technology has changed dramatically, and with it almost everything about our work and home lives, e.g., medicine, communication, education, banking/finance, politics, manufacturing, and transportation, just to name a few. Staying abreast of change and putting it to work for our companies is a skill that draws heavily on fluid intelligence, the ability and the flexibility to solve novel problems. In our 60s and 70s, our strength is more in our crystallized intelligence: We know how to use all the facts we’ve accumulated over the years.

Our experiences of 2008 are among the facts we have accumulated. The question is: How are you going to use those facts?

What owners know

  • The economic growth of the past ten years will not continue indefinitely.
  • Navigating years like 2008 takes all the energy, creativity, discipline, and grit we can muster.
  • One day, every owner leaves his or her company.

What owners don’t know

  • When will the next 2008 hit and how bad will it be?

How will we use these facts?

Few owners I know relish the thought of fighting through another 2008 and most are concerned about a future recession. Rising interest rates, inflation, extreme climate events, and the war in Ukraine are among the reasons business owners are less than optimistic about the future. (The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Business Confidence Index has fallen almost every month from October 2021 to July 2023 and has stayed below its long-term average of 100 since October 2022.[1])

I don’t know when the economy will turn, yet I know from experience (thank you, crystallized intelligence!) that it’s never too early to start planning a business transition. More time equals more options and greater flexibility.

“Time passes whether I stand still or move.”

I encourage you to do a favor for yourself, your family, your successor, your company, and everyone associated with it: Use your time to begin planning your transition strategy out of your business and into your Next Adventure™.

I’ll leave with you one more quote, this one from Alex Dias Ribeiro, a former Formula 1 racecar driver: “Unhappy is he who depends on success to be happy.” You’ve achieved success. It’s time to explore your happiness in your Next Adventure.

One hundred percent of the owners who have used our business transition process, The Transition Roadmap Developer,™ are living meaningful Next Adventures and have left behind successful companies in the hands of successors prepared to lead. If you’d like to know more, reach out at info@transitionstrategists.com.

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.


1 https://data.oecd.org/leadind/business-confidence-index-bci.htm#:~:text=This%20business%20confidence%20indicator%20provides,turning%20points%20in%20economic%20activity.

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