“What are you going to do after you sell this business?” We have asked so many times during the Succession Planning process.
“Don’t you worry; we will sort that out later. We could travel, sit on a beach somewhere and enjoy a drink with a little umbrella in it …or do some charitable work that we have always been too busy to consider … and maybe some mentoring to other people like us?”
Make no mistake; this could be a recipe for disaster. Even if your future owner wants you to stay and help with transition, you might find yourself without a job, or your business. We see that these ongoing working arrangements rarely last … quite commonly only a matter of weeks!
So, what’s the problem?
- Your brain. As a business owner you needed to be on your toes all the time, making decisions, thinking through options and minding the business. Life was go-go-go. Without that business activity, your brain gets bored.
- Your routine. Ok, so you don’t need 6 days a week anymore, but you will need something real. You might otherwise lock yourself in the study and play computer games (true case!).
- Your identity. You have spent months convincing the purchasers of your business that you are not needed. Now they believe you! They don’t need your input. But you need your old brand, your old identity. It was so much a part of who you were. You need a substitute, or you risk a sense of irrelevance. And, a good psychologist!
Our advice is to build that ‘post business’ plan as part of, or concurrently with, your succession plan. And you need to begin to implement it early. After all, what better way to convince your prospective purchaser that the business is not dependent on you than by being away a lot … golf, philanthropy, extended holidays, mature age education, your home workshop, building collections or hobbies or whatever you have always strived to do but could never justify the time. Even a new business interest.
And now, adding that new dimension to your life can actually build business value. Life is full of fabulous ironies!