In my experience working with entrepreneurs, I’ve had the pleasure to meet a wide spectrum of individuals having various personalities, motivations, skills, principles, and beliefs.
Entrepreneurs are highly individualistic and trying to place them in discreet categories or groupings can be a fool’s errand. Having said that, I will go out on a limb and make a generalization that many will recognize, from their own experience, as a valid observation.
When it comes to retirement, entrepreneurs seem to fall into one of two buckets. The first bucket includes those who look forward to the day they can move on to a new and fulfilling lifestyle. They are prepared to close the door on their business life, and reap the benefits of their past investment in hard work, long hours, and time away from family. They have hobbies they can now devote more time to, they have plans to travel and friends and family to spend time with.
The other bucket includes those who dread the thought of having to leave their business behind. They have been totally absorbed in their business for many years, have a well-established, familiar routine, and have never pondered how they would spend more personal time if they had it. Owners tend to self-identify with their business, tying their sense of self-worth to the job. They simply can’t see themselves doing anything else. For them, contemplation of retirement can be a source of stress and anxiety, and entering into retirement can be psychologically challenging.
The point of retirement is to reinvigorate your life, experience new adventures, learn new things, and enjoy your leisure time. Transitioning your business to a new owner, or the next generation, should generate a feeling of great accomplishment, and the satisfaction your legacy is in good hands. So planning for your personal retirement is as important as planning for the sale of the business.
To get started, ask yourself some questions. What activities or hobbies do you now enjoy that can be continued into retirement? What new activities might interest you? Are there countries you’ve always wanted to visit – maybe seeing the northern lights in Norway is on that list? What about taking the grandchildren to Disney World?
You have a lifetime of experience building and running a business. Volunteering to share that knowledge as an advisor to start-up companies and providing mentorship to budding entrepreneurs can be a very rewarding use of your time. Chambers of Commerce and economic development agencies often organize programs that cater to these needs.
The list of possibilities is endless. It’s never too soon to start yours.