Business owners often know what they want from their businesses: growth, profitability, sustained success. And for many of those same owners, the business is a means to an end, not the end itself.
But what is the “end”? You can likely answer “why” you started your business—you’re independent, you crave a challenge, it’s in your blood.
When asked, many business owners struggle to answer the question, “What do you want from all this work?”
Often, the answer to this important, guiding question comes out in planning for a successful future, like it did for one fictional but representative business owner.
Living the Dream
Rory Hunter rose from a hardscrabble life. Rory, his mother, and three sisters shared a two-bedroom apartment during his childhood. He began working full time at 16 while attending school. Immediately after graduating college, he founded his own business.
By the time he was 40, his business was thriving, expanding outside of his small neighborhood shop to 20 locations across the country.
Over the years, Rory sent his three boys to college without taking out any loans. He and his wife renovated their home to precisely what they’d always dreamed of. As the grandchildren came, they played daycare.
And yet, even with everything he’d achieved, Rory couldn’t sit still. He had never known anything other than work. Even as his business ran like a well-oiled machine, he felt obligated to do something, anything within it.
After a failed retirement that lasted all of three months, Rory was back at the helm. But something felt off.
Now What Do I Do?
When Rory was at work, he missed his family. When he was with his family, he felt the urge to work. Planned vacations were canceled so Rory could lead projects. But the projects flamed out more often than not.
When Rory met with his business advisors to plan for his next five years, they told him two things. (1) He had enough money to retire comfortably. (2) He had taken his business as far as it could go with him at the helm.
“OK,” Rory would say. “So, what do I do now?”
Rory Remaining Consequential
Rory had never lived a life in neutral. After his failed retirement, his business advisors suggested that he think about what motivated him the most.
When he learned that his business had plateaued, the realization hit him like a ton of bricks.
“I take care of things. I always have.”
Rory didn’t want a traditional retirement, because it meant he couldn’t take care of business. But he didn’t want to continue running a business that was simply running in place, especially if it was taking time away from his family.
His business planning guided him toward the future he wanted—a future training and mentoring young business leaders.
His advisors helped him create a plan to train his next-level managers from the inside and eventually sell the business to them. It took discipline, but Rory began cutting his work week from 60 hours to 40, then 10.
He filled his spare time taking his grandchildren to museums and watching them perform in plays. In doing so, he discovered an unknown passion for philanthropy of the arts. He adjusted his plans so that once he finally sold the business entirely, he could still support the local arts while maintaining his financial security.
Successful business owners live a life of consequence. So, leaving the business can make you feel inconsequential. And while being an inconsequential owner is key to a successful business future, being an inconsequential person is akin to being cursed!
Planning can help transfer your consequential nature away from your business and toward the things you want outside the business, all while benefiting the business.
A successful future isn’t necessarily defined by a traditional retirement. You may find that the fire in your belly simply never dies. By planning for a successful future, it’s possible to find the “end” that fulfils you most and use your business as the means to achieve it.
We strive to help business owners identify and prioritize their objectives with respect to their businesses, their employees, and their families. If you are ready to talk about your goals for the future and get insights into how you might achieve those goals, we’d be happy to sit down and talk with you. Please feel free to contact us at your convenience.
This material has been prepared for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Should you require any such advice, please contact us directly. The information contained herein does not create, and your review or use of the information does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship.