8 questions business owners should ask before transitioning out

It's essential for owners to "re-fire " their lives, rather than planning to retire them, and consider meaningful purposes outside of work long before thinking about business transition.

As a business owner begins thinking about transition, it's important to gain insights into what ignites each person's spirit and passions in order to start down a more meaningful path to transition. What does this have to do with letting go of your life's work?

Consider this tragic retirement scenario: John and Susan finally decided to transition from the business they had started and built together for 32 years. Managing a small franchise chain of restaurants was time consuming, especially when they operated one of restaurants themselves. They had few outside interests and only a small circle of friends because of the nature of running a restaurant, and their family was scattered across the country.

But now it was their time to do what they always wanted to do — golf for John, travel for Susan — and spend time with the grandchildren. Yes, they were ready to retire.

Two weeks after signing over their restaurant chain to a new owner, John had a significant stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. Susan cancelled plans for a retirement celebration visit to the children and grandchildren. They now had all the money they needed to do what they had always wanted to do — yet were unable to do it because "life happened." Now what?

"Re-fire" versus retire

John and Susan's story unfortunately is not uncommon. That is why it's essential for owners to "re-fire" their lives, rather than planning to retire them, and consider meaningful purposes outside of work long before thinking about business transition. Enjoyment is not postponed but, rather, intentionally built into everyday life as owners spread their energies and apply their numerous skills to causes outside of work.

For example, one owner slowly translated his skills of founding and running a temporary professional employment service into his real passion of creating and managing grandparent camps, where grandparents learn how to better connect with their grandchildren.

Another owner is just beginning to gather the information he needs to start a "green think tank" in the commercial real estate field where he has worked successfully for 25 years. He won't actually work full-time in this venture for another six years.

In both of these cases, skills were repurposed, and some new skills were acquired to give purpose to life beyond the business. This is the basis for future "passion planning" your life.

"Re-fire" versus retire

So how do you begin finding a repurposed life direction? Start by asking yourself a few key questions:

  • 1. Will my new direction be consistent with my core values?
  • 2. Is the new direction something I am passionate about?
  • 3. Will it build on skills I already have?
  • 4. If I need new skills, can I easily acquire them?
  • 5. Is my family supportive of my new direction?
  • 6. Do I have broader support group that will support me?
  • 7. Is my new direction a reasonable one to pursue?
  • 8. What small step(s) can I take today to start my new journey of discovery?

Taking the next steps

The next step is to make a list of all things that currently "spirit " your life. Additionally, make a list of all the things that "dull" your life. When both lists are completed, estimate how much time you spend on things that are uplifting versus things that bring little or no joy. It is always surprising to see how much of your very precious time is spent on things that are "dulling."

his exercise will hopefully give you some insight and even some inspiration toward igniting your life spirit, identifying your real passions and beginning a meaningful path to your transition.


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