You transition into this world from the womb. Then you go through multiple transitions throughout your life: youth, adolescence, adulthood, school, relationships, marriage, family, career. And of course, you end with the ultimate transition as you exit this world and step into the next.
It never stops, does it? Transitions are right up there with death and taxes. They keep coming and coming.
The one commonality I’ve found among successful people is that they handle these transitions well. They accept them, they anticipate them, and they plan for them. And they almost always come out of them in great shape.
Dr. Allie Taylor, co-founder of the advisory firm Orange Kiwi, underscores how important handling transitions is. She says, “Early on in our work, we kept running into clients that had a common issue: At points of significant transition, the business was struggling because the leader was struggling.”
(You can read the full interview in “Why Successful Exits Start with the Owner’s Psychology” on Axial.net.)
Big transitions affecting my generation
I’ve talked about transitions all my life to my clients, and I’ve gone through my fair share of them as well. But things are a little different for me these days. This past year:
- I’ve attended five funerals of friends.
- I’m getting calls from my peers who own businesses and are preparing to sell, but have no idea what they need to do on a professional or personal level.
- I signed up for Medicare this year – an eye-opening experience to be sure.
As you age, instead of thinking you’re invincible, you realize you’re vulnerable. Fortune may have smiled on you in the past when you rolled the dice, but over time, luck and even skill will only take you so far. Especially when those skills begin to decline.
As you prepare to transition out of owning your business, it’s time to take stock of the days you have left and make the most of them. Here are the questions you need to ask:
What do your numbers tell you?
I always talk about the importance of the numbers, and how the numbers never lie. They really show you what you can and can’t do.
The numbers tell all, so make sure you understand the impact you’ll have in the coming years. Can your savings take you as far as you want, in the lifestyle you want? Make sure you have a spreadsheet that proves they do.
Is your business ready for your departure?
Funny how hard so many of us work to build a business, hoping that someday it will be big enough to allow us to retire and leave it behind.
And then, we just can’t leave it behind.
Your business is your baby. It’s a part of your identity. And with so many people relying on you for it to succeed, it’s also part of your self-esteem. But you’re going to have to walk away at some point. Life won’t let you work forever, and so you can either leave the business in a state where it can function on its own, or you can take it down with you.
Choose the latter. Make sure you have a transition team in place and a succession plan established. The numbers will once again show you the way.
Are you strategically approaching the rest of your life?
I’m always amazed at how much strategic thinking owners do for their business, but how little they do for their own lives.
I don’t think this is due to a lack of ability. You’re all proven leaders. You know how to execute a mission and follow a vision. It’s just that you’ve never really taken the time to apply it to your own life – to thinking about yourself outside of the business.
I’m not just talking about the financials here. I’m talking about what you can do to give back to your community, your family and your spouse. What will your next steps be to fulfill yourself spiritually? What will you do to help others achieve their dreams?
And what about you? You’ve sacrificed a lot throughout your life for many people. Have you given yourself a chance at the life you’ve truly wanted? Do you want to learn to dance? Paint watercolors on the beach? Skydive? Climb a mountain?
Like you built a business, you can build a retirement. You just need a vision, a mission and a strategy.
Do you have advisors for the next stage of life?
An entrepreneur is a proud, independent person. But the successful entrepreneur is one who has relied on advisors to build a business.
Retirement will be no different. You’ll need planners and coaches to help you transition, adapt and thrive as you move on.
The day I became successful at my career was the day I acknowledged I couldn’t do it on my own. And guess what? As you age, and you become more dependent on others for health, nutrition and transportation – you’ll need advisors, coaches and caregivers.
Don’t shy away from them. Find the best, and make sure they’re aware of your wishes and dreams.
It’s really all about adding significance to your life
I mentioned identity early on and how your business is a part of your own personal identity. But it’s more than that. Once again, Dr. Allie Taylor:
“What the research really identified is the psychological need for significance that’s derived from the business is as powerful an issue as identity...It’s really a deep need to have purpose and meaning in the world.”
So how do you find significance for yourself as you go through your next transition? I’d advise you to take the same approach you took while building your business.
Roll up those sleeves and make it every bit as successful as the business that’s made it possible. Manage the plan, the team and the people who are going to make these years golden. Don’t just hope for significance. Build the system to achieve it.
As you embark on that goal, the successful people in life are the ones who have embraced life’s transitions. It’s worked for you in the past. Don’t stop now.
Rock LaManna empowers label company owners with 35 years of print industry experience. With the LaManna Alliance, you’ll make smart decisions about growth, selling, or succession plans. Let’s talk: Rock@RockLaManna.com