To be prepared for when you no longer own your business, you need clear answers to two questions.

What will I DO when I step away from the business?

What will I NEED when I step away from the business?

The question of DO is the most important. DO has to do with fulfilling your purpose, something essential to living a good life. Stepping away is not an end; it is the beginning of new opportunities. You might start that business idea you had been too busy for or share your experiences and hard-gained wisdom with others as an advisor or consultant. Or have a more sizable or different investment in your family or that volunteer organization. Former business owners do not retire well to a lack of achievement. Regardless of your personal DO, it remains essential to have clarity regarding goals and plans. Without clarity, you are much less likely to achieve your purpose successfully.

The answer to the NEED question provides clarity on your degree of preparation. The three primary things you can receive when you walk away are money, continuity, and legacy.

  • If your primary NEED is money, it is crucial to know the realistic selling price for your business. Do you know how much you will receive net taxes and other expenses? I’ve had more than one client who didn’t know the details and had to defer their retirement when they calculated the real numbers.
  • If continuity is most important, you must prepare your company’s leadership team to operate without you. Many private businesses depend upon the owner being the primary if not the only, decision-maker (if every significant decision requires approval, you are making it). You cannot replace yourself with a better you (and you don’t want a lesser one), so the business must perform well and grow without you. Getting them ready is your duty.
  • If legacy is what you desire, clarity is again key. Among my clients, the most common is making the business a family legacy, a provider of income, and jobs for generations. This form of legacy depends upon family members to play key leadership roles. Companies successful at legacy, such as Hobby Lobby, require responsibility from all family members, and those interested are provided roles of responsibility for training. However, family members interested in a potential leadership position must serve a form of internship, working from entry-level positions to gain fundamental knowledge and respect for the care of the business and its employees.

Clear answers to the DO and NEED questions are needed to inform you as to WHEN and HOW you can smoothly leave your company behind. It also takes a plan. Ambitions with a plan are 3 to 5 times more likely to be achieved.

There comes a day for us when it is time to move on. A key responsibility for business owners is to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Do you need help finding clear answers to these questions? Contact me here.



“There are no secrets to success.
It is the result of preparation, hard work,
and learning from failure.”

– Colin Powell

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