5 Questions to Answer When Contemplating Life After Business

Picture this: you’ve finally sold your business. After years of work to build up your empire, it can be a surreal moment to put that part of your life in the rear-view mirror. It’s all smooth sailing from here on out, right?

On the surface (and in your mind) it may be, but that’s not always how it works. Most business owners are so focused on selling their business and seeking out top dollar for their operation (and so they should be), one huge aspect that gets lost in the quest to sell your business is: what are you going to do after you sell?

It sounds like a simple question, but it’s often left unanswered. You may have realized top value for your business, but what’s next?

You’ve Sold Your Business – Now What?

We all spend so much of our lives working. For anyone who flips the switch from working full-time to retirement, there’s a serious adjustment period.

As a business owner, you don’t just work 9-5 before clocking out. Being a business owner is a 24-hour commitment. Even when you’re not working, you’re constantly thinking about ways to improve your business, production and productivity.

If you are going from constantly focusing on your business to being free from it all, chances are you haven’t given much serious thought (or even better, tried out) what it is you’re going to do with the rest of your life.

Here’s one key piece of advice: don’t just flip the switch. You need to find out what motivates you, and what you love to do before you retire. It’s crucial to embed activities that you’re passionate about into your life ahead of time.

Let’s get more specific. Read on…

Can You Handle Not Being the Boss Anymore?

You’ve been in charge for a long time. Before retiring, you were the head honcho. Everyone came to you to ask questions, and you were the one dishing out the answers.

If you’ve sold your business, you’re no longer the boss. While that should be a freeing feeling, it often leaves a void for many business owners.

There’s a psychological side of “I’m not the boss anymore.” Certain business owners do struggle with a lack of responsibility after entering retirement. Much like selling your business without a plan for after retirement, everything is easier if you practice first.

Try putting a management team in place so that you can step away, take a backseat, and coach others to learn management roles. Have your teams in place a few years before you leave.

When a proper team is in place, that always looks good to a buyer. Not only will easing yourself out of the business before retirement help you in your personal life, but it will make your business more attractive, and command a higher dollar as well.  Heck, you may even discover this new way of running your business is so liberating, you push full retirement off for a while.

Time for Hobbies

Figuring out which hobbies will keep you busy in retirement isn’t just something you decide the day after you retire. You need to be thinking about these things in advance.

If you think you’re going to love golf, but you don’t play right now, that’s not a feasible retirement plan. That’s not going to fill up your time or satisfy lifestyle. If you think you’re going to buy a yacht but you’ve never sailed, I have some bad news for you: it’s likely not your life-fulfilling passion.

The bottom line here is that you need to discover that enjoyment before you sell. You also need to make sure that enjoyment lines up financially with your retirement savings.

If your hobbies and savings don’t line up, and you don’t figure that out before you retire, then I have some more bad news for you… you’re going to incur some financial burdens down the road.

Find a Higher Purpose

Finding hobbies that keep you busy is one thing, but what’s arguably more important is finding your “higher purpose.”

Your higher purpose is something that should carry through many years of your life, so you need to put some thought into it. Why? Everyone needs purpose in life, you need a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to get excited about what’s ahead.

Sure, most spend the first 3 – 6 months or more living life like it is a holiday, but that attraction wears off, and you cannot afford to have a 7 day a week happy hour habit.

Volunteering is often where retired business people find they are valued and appreciated. Organizations need and would love to have your expertise. Look around and ask questions to find the right fit for you.

Invest in Social Circles

One last point is “What will your social circles look like?” Will you keep in touch with your business owner friends and other business contacts after you sell? Evidence shows us this circle shrinks dramatically after you are out.

Do you already have a social circle outside of business? This is the best indicator you will transition smoothly in this area.