With family business and farm/ranch succession planning, we are often in discussions with the current owners and the prospective successors about how best to get the new owners in and the old owners out of the business. Who should be the successor? What do the potential successors need to do to qualify? When should transition occur? Little, if any, time is spent on what happens to the departing owners once they leave the business. What happens to an owner after he/she leaves the business can often be just as challenging as how to get there. The business is a part of them. This is particularly true with farmers and ranchers who were often literally born on and grew up on the farm or ranch.
I am a big fan of the Arizona Cardinals. Recently the Cardinals had their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, and their Head Coach, Bruce Arians, retire. While it will be a big deal for the Cardinals to replace these two greats, they will also have their own issues to deal with. If you have ever listened to someone who has retired, they often say that the first year is the hardest. There is a perceived loss of identity and purpose that occurs. There is a fear about aging, finances, and the general unknown. Some never get past this phase.
Just like you prepared for transitioning the business, you can prepare for you own transition by thinking strategically and coming up with a vision and plan for your post-retirement life. You need to spend time assessing and creating your new “identity” that no longer includes being a business owner. Consider the following:
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What provides you with meaning?
- Why are you valuable?
- Besides the business, what am I good at?
Most of us do best when we seek meaning and purpose outside of ourselves. Just because you have “retired” doesn’t mean it is time to move into the grave. There is still so much more you have to offer. So in addition to preparing to transition the business to new owners, take time to prepare yourself for what comes next.