EXIT STRATEGY: STAY OR GO?
I just came from a luncheon featuring a topic on, I think, retirement as seen from the eyes of a business owner, who is considering selling his/her company. I say “I think” because I could not quite figure out the message; was it a SUCCESSION or a RETIREMENT ISSUE?
What will I do with the rest of my life (assuming the owner is in his/her 60’s) if I do sell; Maybe I can finally buy that summer home in a sunshine state or my beloved boat or take many exotic vacations, for starters?
My read on the above issues is so subjective, because I have gone through all of the above material and psychological considerations and kept going back to work after brief breaks of boredom, the latter was twenty-five years ago, when I started my present consulting firm (retirement 3), after I sold my bank, which was a result of buying it eight years earlier (retirement 2), after I took an early incentivized (many perks) retirement offer from a bank, for which I worked, after twelve years (retirement 1).
Naturally, I had other jobs before I began my entrepreneurial journey but what counts is when you are hanging by your finger nails, starting your own gig and the house, car and third kid are all collateral for what you hope will be a fruitful mission, that is when the “rubber meets the road;” nevertheless, those early jobs prepared me for the big step and set up a situational choice; do I stay in Corporate America or create my own destiny?
Thank God I chose the latter as I was able to play endless rounds of golf, sail three oceans and live in some of the finest communities in this country, between retirement(s) and not give a hoot about whether my boss was having a good or bad day.
My advice to any business owner considering selling and/or retiring is to get your advice from a multitude of sources, not the least of which and most important is the immediate family, then when you, the owner, has the vote of confidence from the wife and kids, follow your instincts and start talking to professionals in such disciplines as wealth management, experienced business consultants, preferably those who have been there and done that, and your personal accountant/tax guru; followed by your own personal introspection as to how you will cope with idle time, the latter being the case?
FYI: Whatever you do, take advice with a healthy dose of skepticism as much of the advice you will collect can easily be based on what is best for the adviser-not you, since at the end of the day it will be you deciding what you will do that day, if you are not going to work. You can only play so much golf and at your age maybe handling trimming the sails, going for long bike rides, hiking et al may be a bit out-of-reach, especially if most of your adult life was spent building your business.
So, here is what I did. After retirement (1), I sold my home in Minneapolis moved to Miami and bought a condo and a boat, both of which I sold as neither gave me any intellectual stimulation/challenges but plenty of headaches! Then I began looking around for my next venture and with the help of an old (literally-retired) friend, we decided to form an investment company, raised several million dollars and targeted undercapitalized financial institutions, among which were one bank and the management contracts of two Mutual Funds, all of which we later sold to another bank.
Then, we moved to San Francisco, where I began to teach my favorite two subjects, finance and entrepreneurship, at U C Berkeley, while working on the early stages of online education for them. I did this for seven years, while I was routinely kept after class with questions from my graduate students on starting a business, which was the catalyst for me to start my own consulting firm and here I am 25 years later still practicing, and best of all having quality time meeting many exceptional people and on occasion witnessing the launch or growth of an entrepreneurial business.
My path into retirement is not so unique as I meet many, even clients, who have similar experiences and they themselves are looking for their own next venture, which is why they hire me.
So, what can be learned from my journey into retirement? “KNOW THYSELF” no one can know you better than YOU and again, at the end of the day it will be you making the decision to STAY or GO. Nevertheless, here are some ideas for you to contemplate before you make the final decision:
There are many more factors that go into the decision to STAY or GO; suffice it to say this POST is to just help my fellow entrepreneur properly prepare for the enviable before you just plain die at your desk as my boss (President) at the bank and his boss (Chair/CEO) did within six months of each other.
FYI: My next book will cover this subject in detail as my first book was on how to start a business and grow it so it is only befitting that probably my last book (sequel) will be on “NOW WHAT”?
Mitchellette and Associates, LLC
2730 West Lake St. Ste 300
Minneapolis, MN 55416