Like everyone else, business owners will eventually have to turn it over to someone else. As a business owner, you are more likely to be more emotionally attached to or engaged in your job than an employee. Therefore, there is an increased chance that you will have more difficulty disengaging from it. At the opposite end of the scale, the reason for starting it in the first place was so you could retire early and moving on to what you really wanted to do. Of course the vast majority place somewhere in between these two extremes.
Even if you are one of those people who keep going till the end of your life and have great joy doing so, there is still a need for a succession plan. We know what will happen to you, we just do not know when. What will happen to the business when that happens? You still need a plan for that.
You may have heard about business owners who have sold their businesses intending to retire only to start another one just like it soon after. Their problem is that they forgot or did not know that they had to prepare mentally for retirement as well as physically and financially. That is what this article is about.
Just like determining your financial status and setting goals for your physical and financial retirement, there is a need for evaluating your emotional state and setting goals for how you will occupy your mind in retirement. Start with what occupies your mind now besides your business. How can that knowledge help you shape your future? What will your social environment look like? Will you have meaningful connections? Will your life still have purpose?
People were never designed for retirement in the first place. Most of us define ourselves through the work we do. Either that or others will do it for us. Our original design from the time of creation is as members of a community or tribe where everyone regardless of age has a role to play. Everyone has value of some sort. Originally, value or status was mostly defined by how well you contributed to the community and not how much you got out of it.
If you are one of those people whose identity is closely tied to what you do as a business owner, sudden retirement could be a particularly frustrating time in your life. You may have been used to being in charge and in control. With that suddenly gone, a big void has entered your life and you have nothing to fill it with. Suddenly retirement does not seem like what you had expected. Misery, even depression, could set in. If you are one of this type of people, preparing for retirement is not only important, your life could literally depend on it. Having something meaningful to do becomes critical.
As a business owner, you probably spent a good deal of your time interacting with people, maintaining relationships and solving problems. It may come as a surprise to you that all these relationships were professional, not social. Now that your identity has changed from a co-worker to an acquaintance, you may find that the busy people you used to surround yourself with no longer have time for you.
Therefore, it becomes essential that you develop another social circle of friends outside of work, preferably well ahead of time. Otherwise, if work was what used to drive you, you may find yourself looking for a way to get back into business.
Fortunately, there is a plethora of excellent resources to tap. They will not do you much good unless you actually use them, though. The point is that whether your retirement is joyous or miserable is largely within your control. Only you can design it the way you want it, but do get the help you need.
The ability to create a new identity outside your business could mean the difference between joy and misery in retirement. A new circle of friends may also be needed.