When is it time to hang it up? To cash in, so to speak? If you’re like many, you’ve spent decades working in your business and made a good living overall. Now comes the complicated part: cashing in before we croak. But selling or transitioning the business isn’t just another “deal.” Nope. It’s a life-changer, and it’s not to be done without consideration. That’s why I’m dedicating the next several articles to the subject of transitions.
So, why do you want to cash in? Are you just plain tired and want out? If your business was making the kind of money you think it should, would you still want to sell? Often the answer is, we’re sick and tired alright but if we were making good money and things were going smoothly, then we’d love to continue. If this is you, then selling the business isn’t the answer. The answer is to fix it, then consider your options.
Now, there’s a secret you should know about retiring: It’s not all splendor. Many who go from an active life to sitting around quickly become bored, depressed, and even worse. Not a good plan.
Retirement isn’t a given even though we’re raised to think so. Not retiring is often better for our physical and emotional health, according to Mary Lloyd, author of Supercharged Retirement. She cites studies where people who work to the end with purpose have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. She also notes that work is one of the best sources of self-esteem and says many who retire feel “empty.” So, it’s an alternative.
Owning a business also gives us a real identity whether we recognize it or not. “I own Pretty Fast Printing,” tells the world that you are a person of stature and worth. You have a place in the community. “I’m retired,” rings hollow. The hit to our psyche by going from an active business owner to retiree can be a big issue.
So, Lloyd and many others recommend that we “work at something we believe in … “
That means we need to plan retirement as our next career. Maybe it’s a paid job and maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s a hobby (traveling the world) or a retirement job (business) or a volunteer position. Study and learn what you plan to do BEFORE you approach selling the business.
It’s About More than the Money
Now, obviously the more assets you have, the more options you have. But, and this is key, we need to figure out what we WANT to do in retirement as much or more as how much money we will need.
How do we do that? Viktor Frankl, a famed Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor (Man’s Search for Meaning, 1959), postulated that what gives us real satisfaction is discovering our “values.” Once known, we can then choose work that will give us immense satisfaction at any stage of life.
More recently, Jeri Sedlar, co-author with Rick Miners of the book Don’t Retire: Rewire, takes a similar stand. Sedlar says, “Retirement is not solely an economic event. Money is not the sole question. The question is, ‘do you have enough money to retire and do … what?’ The ‘what’ is the real question.
So, how do we know what fulfills us? Their book is full of exercises that help us discover our “drivers” or core values, Frankl cites. These drivers can be prestige, worth to the community or family, or many other things say the authors. The closer our work is to what drives us, the more fulfilled we are.
So, here’s my simple plan. Spend a lot of time finding out what you really want to do in your next “job,” not necessarily with the rest of your life. Once you do and you desire to do that more than what you are doing today; then selling or transitioning the business is simple on the soul.
Fail to do that and it can be deadly.
It’s only when we are more excited about our next career than this one will we be able to transition (sell) successfully. If we’re not, we often end up subconsciously sabotaging the business sale because we don’t have anything to look forward to besides croaking. Or we sell the business and wait until we croak.
In our next installment we’ll think about how much we’ll need to retire.
Get Tom’s weekly email thoughts on Cashing In by going to www.cprint.com and signing up or messaging firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach Tom at (304) 541-3714, connect on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow his business tweets on Twitter @tomcrouser. Tom is Senior Contributing Editor of this magazine, chairman of CPrint® International and principal of Crouser & Associates, Inc., 235 Dutch Road, Charleston, WV 25302, www.crouser.com, www.cprint.com or call (304) 965-7100.