By: Patrick Ungashick
This article is the fifth installment of a seven-part series on what business owners need to do once they reach the Last Five Years before exit.
You, as a business owner, must answer five critical questions once you reach five years before your desired exit. These five questions define your exit goals and help shape the plan for how you will achieve those goals. As stated in previous articles in this series, there’s no way to sugar-coat this—answering these five questions must happen as you enter Your Last Five Years. Without clear answers, you will not know the steps needed for your exit planning, and you potentially run out of time to maximize your exit success.
The five critical questions are:
|1 - What is My Likely Exit Strategy?|
|2 - How Much Do I Need to Net From My Exit?|
|3 - What Do I Want My Legacy to Be?|
|4 - What Do I Want To Do in Life After Exit?|
|5 - How Exitable is My Company?|
NOTE: Click the article links above to review other installments of the 'Your Last Five Years' series
Question 4: What Do I Want To Do in Life After Exit?
Undoubtedly, you’ve noticed that in the U.S. we define ourselves strongly around our occupations. At social gatherings, when two people meet for the first time, usually the second question (the first being “What’s your name?”) is “What do you do for a living?” For most of us, our occupations are a core element of our identity and sense of self-worth. For this reason, when faced with the question of what to do in life after the business exit, many owners understandably feel some level of anxiety and concern. That’s why figuring out your plans for life after exit is a critical issue.
Owners must address this question prior to their desired exit. You cannot assume that you will figure it out after you have exited. Figuring out your plans for life after exit often takes years. Waking up every day without something meaningful and interesting to do in life is not going to be a happy exit.
Five years before exit is when to begin exploring this issue, because answering the question takes time. If you have few to no ideas about what you might do in life after exit, you will need time to research and reflect. If you have ideas for life after exit, you will need time to test your plan. Perhaps the biggest mistake owners make with this question is that they never actually test their life after exit ideas. If you have some ideas about a new company, work on the business plan. If teaching sounds like fun, be a guest professor for a semester. If you want to open a winery, go work harvest one fall. Whatever your ideas may be, test them. Nobody has a perfect track record of predicting their next calling or hobby. You must verify that your ideas will provide you with meaningful, engaging activities on a sustained basis.
To help you get started exploring your ideas for life after exit, review this list of 101 Questions to Help Business Owners Determine What to Do in Life After Exit.
In the next article in this series, we will examine the fifth and final question you must answer when entering Your Last Five Years: “How Exitable is My Company?”