In This Episode

Many folks are confused why business owners have trouble stepping back and selling or transitioning their business to the next generation of ownership.  We have found in our decades of working with small business owners transitioning to the next phase in their life that one of the biggest items holding them back from exiting their business is finding ways to stay relevant.

This is a battle that many business owners fight in private, mostly in their own minds.  Folks on the outside look and say why wouldn’t you want to just step away from always being the center of attention in your business.  Like many things, it’s hard to just quit cold turkey.  So if you’re a business owner considering transitioning away from your business but you aren’t sure how to step away from your business and find relevance, then today’s show is for you.

This maintaining relevance thing isn’t just for business owners.  How else do you explain folks like Tom Brady and LeBron James who continue to perform at a championship level well past their supposed primes?  The good news about being a business owner is you usually don’t have to maintain a professional athlete’s physique.  But just like those professional athletes, you’ll want to come to grips with the fact that your days as a business owner are numbered and you should be spending some time and effort preparing yourself for what comes next.

A good place to start is figuring out what it is you like about running your current business.  It could be something as simple as having a place to go every day.  Chances are there are other things you enjoy about owning your business which likely includes the people side of things (think employees, customers, and vendors).  So how do you replace all of those interactions with people.

One option we discussed during the show are ROMEO groups.  Even if you don’t know what these are, we can almost guarantee you’ve seen some of them.  ROMEO stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out!  Stop by your local coffee shop or McDonald’s on a weekday morning and you’ll likely see a table of folks sipping coffee and chatting about everything from the news of the day or the good old days.  If you go out at lunch or the afternoon you might want to check the local golf course or watering hole and you’re likely to find another group of “retirees”.  If you’re like most business owners we know, groups like this sound miserable and are a big motivator to keep running your business.

How about volunteering?  Start with things you’re involved in now from a volunteer standpoint and see if there is more you can do.  Adam talked about his involvement with Rotary and also shared how his dad got involved with SCORE which has allowed him to share much of his knowledge and experience with future generations of business owners.

Next up is family.  Perhaps you have some grandkids you’d like to see.  Or make up for some lost time with your spouse and kids.  That all sounds great in theory but you better check with them first.  Believe it or not, most of those folks aren’t sitting around holding their breath waiting for your to retire.  In fact most spouses hate it when their spouse is now available and “in the way” of the routines they’ve set for themselves.

Same thing goes for traveling or just sitting around watching day-time TV.  The lack of a clear idea of what you’re going to do after stepping away from the business is one of the biggest reasons owners have trouble stepping away.  Much like the athletes we discussed, it’s hard to find the rush and excitement you get from running a business in other walks of life.  But there are still plenty of ways for you to maintain your relevance.  It just takes a little digging to figure things out!

People, Companies and Resources We Mentioned in the Show