Most succession plans and strategies deal with selling a business and investing the proceeds to live well through retirement. Not much or any real thought is given to what the business owner wants to or can do with her or his time, post exit. Maybe a “bucket list” exists or the few non work activities developed over their career are still of interest. These won’t fill the life of what has been to-date an entrepreneur mostly consumed with work. The business owners I have known all lived their work, initially out of necessity and then from habit. They literally took their identity from this business that they created, nurtured and needed to sustain their desire to build a thriving enterprise.
And then I am seeing more “young” business owners who sense it’s time to get at some of the other important undone adventures of life. As Rick George is quoted in this past weekend Globe and Mail (he has just at 62, stepped down as CEO of Suncor)``Suncor, after swallowing Petrocan, had started to become that kind of place (referring to huge Exxon Mobil Corp.) where procedures began to rule over personal initiative. The fun was gone. According to the article he has a full post succession agenda.
One business owner commented to me that he imagined himself sitting on a plane and, upon being asked by someone what he did, having to say that he spent his time fixing up old cars. Which he does quite well in fact however he didn`t see it as his identity. He`s still running his business by the way.
So each business owner needs to spend some quality time addressing the question, ``and what now my friend?”
If a return to skiing is contemplated maybe getting into the gym with a trainer will be needed.
If the urge to “give back” is present, the way in which the proceeds from the sale of the business are invested may have to be structured to enable philanthropic gifting.
Whatever the plan, understand that going from being an owner, with important, time critical business to do, to an idle, perhaps wealthy but none-the-less idle, individual, is not healthy or after a short rest, life fulfilling.
Like the more tangible parts of the succession plan, the post succession bit needs some critical thinking and will always benefit from inputs from those close to you. Then you will be able to say, as Mr. George does, “Life’s been full actually. I haven’t been resting on my laurels at all. And I’m quite excited about what we’re doing next”.