If you’re like most business owners, you have invested some (or most) of the best years of your life and most of your financial resources in your business. And you have taken precious little time off to focus on yourself. Once you started your business, your other passions likely fell off the radar, and now that you have been at it for several years, you are probably not used to thinking about yourself independently from the business. Your identity and that of the business may now actually be one and the same, which can be dangerous when it comes to your business transfer. If you’re not prepared for the transition, it could lead to a feeling of emptiness and loss.
More often than not, business owners don’t take the time to separate themselves, emotionally, from the business, to explore their passions that had gone dormant so many years earlier, and to create identities and feelings of self-worth that are not tied to being a CEO. They never think about how this next stage of life might play out.
After spending so much time toiling in your business, it’s very easy for this to happen. No one warns you when you start a business to make sure lead a balanced life and keep your own identity in perspective. As you prepare for a business transition, it will take quite some time to separate yourself—at least emotionally—from the business so you can seriously prepare yourself for life beyond the business.
This preparation is about crafting the next and hopefully the best stage of your life. This is about remembering your true passions, determining what is most important to you, and what you want to do when you can spend less or no time with your business. We’re talking about the personal and non-financial aspects of your transition, such as:
- Regaining balance in your life
- Following a passion that you gave up many years ago when you started your business
- Creating a legacy that will extend beyond your natural life
- Achieving and preserving family peace
- Taking care of loyal management and/or employees
It’s important to think about your goals and objectives for each area of your life. If you think of your life as your own personal portfolio, your list may include goals in many areas including physical health, work, family, social, community, philanthropic, etc.
Every owner’s plan will be unique to his individual situation. However, it’s hard to walk away when you don’t know what you’re walking into, which is why planning is so important. Getting yourself prepared is a process that takes time—a good reason to start this planning well in advance.
Whether you want to remain active with your company in your current or reduced capacity or wish to leave completely in a few years, you need to begin creating the life you want now! Determining and understanding what you want to accomplish will re-energize you and provide you with direction as you figure out the best way to transition the ownership of your business to others. Once you have a clear vision, you will find the resources to accomplish it. It will give you an exciting new phase of life to step toward as you move away from your business.