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Exit Your Business - Exit Promise

Perhaps you are one of those business owners who feels you have plenty of time to think about exiting your business. You consider yourself lucky, and whenever you feel it’s time to leave, you will be able to exit your business with ease.

Well, it may not be so. This is not one of those articles about how long it takes to leave a business, or how hard and expensive it can be. Instead it’s about the false impression many business owners have of life after the business – all wine and roses (PS it’s not).

As we consult with business owners, we find many are struggling with how and when to leave. Some are torn by commitment to family (“I promised my wife I would be retired by this age – and she is not letting me off the hook”) or commitment to business partners (“my partners are telling me, you can’t leave now, we’re not ready for that”). Others think that leaving would feel like a kind of death. Either way, they think business owners who leave easily must be “lucky”.

Retirement Myths vs Reality – An October 2014 article by Charlene M. Kalenkoski, Ph.D., and Eakamon Oumtrakool published in the Journal of Financial Planning examined the relationship between how middle and high-income retirees spend their time and how much money they would need in retirement. The article also compared the top 20 weekday activities of full and part-time workers to those of retired individuals using data accumulated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its 2010-2012 American Time Use Survey (ATUS).

The time use comparison was daunting. Full time workers spent most of their time (reported in minutes per day) working and sleeping. No surprise there. The rest of their time was split into the various other activities of daily living. Retirees on the other hand reported their top ten time uses this way:

521 – Sleeping
223 – Television and movies
89 – Eating and Drinking
48 – Reading for personal interest
39 – Washing, dressing, grooming oneself
34 – Socializing and communicating with others
34 – Food and drink preparation
30 – Lawn, garden, houseplant care
24 – Interior cleaning
23 – Shopping, except groceries, food, gas

In other words, most retired people are replacing work with watching TV – YIKES! Makes you want to keep working forever, right? Sorry, you can’t. No one does.

I have owned several businesses over the years, and leaving each had a different outcome, but the process was always both painful and joyful. What I have learned in my time at STPI is that if you take the time to explore where you are at this point and life, you can then shape your new future. In other words, owners who leave “easily” aren’t lucky, they make their own luck.

So how can YOU do that? – Start by asking yourself some questions:

What am I proud of myself for?
What do I value myself for?
What did I like to do when I was younger?
What transitions have I had in my past, what did I learn from them?
What are some of my fears and what is causing these fears in me?
Who do I know who will listen to me non-judgmentally?
What is my target “leave by date”?

Purposeful Living leads to living healthier and longer – You need to answer these questions within a framework of the various aspects of your life illustrated below.

Exit Your Business - Exit Promise

©2008 – 2015 Successful Transition Planning Institute

By starting with a series of questions (the list is MUCH longer by the way), you can gradually chart a path forward. By using a framework to brainstorm ideas and make decisions on the various aspects of your life, you can build a new sense of purpose.

Following this path can lead you to a much better life than you can imagine now – one full of purpose and meaning. Now that has nothing to do with being lucky, does it?

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