5 reasons you don't want to be a 'boomerang' business owner

When you're transitioning out of the business, undoing your exit plan with a boomerang return can have major consequences for the company.

Here's a New Year's resolution that is sound advice all year long: Once you begin an important task, keep going until you have finished what you started. This particularly applies to owners in transition who have declared a change in their historic place in the business.

If you decide to step away from the business or leadership, then finish what you started and focus on your vision for the next stage of life. Don't go back to your original role and undo your exit plan.

Here are five reasons that illustrate the need to keep moving on with your transition, and consequences of returning to your pre-transition duties:

  • 1. Creates leadership indecision

Good things don't happen when an owner decides to re-enter the business after a public and visible move out of leadership. A reversal in active owner roles after the transition has been set in motion clearly says, "I changed my mind." Or, "I made a poor earlier decision." Or, "I didn't understand what moving away really meant, and regret making the decision." All this creates indecision and lack of leadership that permeates the whole business, and those around the leader.

  • 2. Undermines trust, motivation and loyalty

Going back can damage the motivation and loyalty of key managers. Once a change of leadership has been set in motion, the next generation of leaders is invited to step up with the belief they have earned the trust and respect of the departing leader. When that leader re-enters, this trust, respect, loyalty and motivation are undermined, maybe erased or even pushed to a negative level. A once-unified team has been broken. The attention of management has shifted to who is really in charge, and what the real plan is. Again, indecision reigns.

  • 3. Hampers business performance and value

The returning owner has unintentionally hampered the future performance and value of the business. The time ahead to function as an active leader for the returnee is always far shorter and less energetic than the managers who are now left wondering about their future — and possibly thinking about alternative employment. Meanwhile, business performance suffers and the value of the business erodes.

  • 4. Creates uncertainty among family and friends

Family and friends of the wavering owner/leader are left wondering how to live with their colleague. What once looked like a sound path forward has now become uncertain. Not knowing what new idea or purpose the owner is pursuing, the usual support becomes silent, withdrawn and passive. This is not a good way for an accomplished owner to enter the next stage of life.

  • 5. Loses focus on next-stage opportunities

Boomerang owners lose focus on their next stage of life. If they return to old routines, their abundant energy, skills and knowledge are less likely to be shared or re-invested in the community and other people, including family and friends. This may be the greatest loss. Many owners find new challenges, opportunities and deep satisfaction in what becomes possible after full-time work, especially when giving back to others out of their abundance.

The greatest challenge for transition is finding a vision for the next stage of life, and then sticking with it. Transitions that don't go well often reflect a failure to find something better than going back to the shop every day.

Do you have a clear, inviting vision for your next stage of life?


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