The Two Futures – Retiring Business Owners
01 September 2013
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In my world an established business today falls into two main categories:
Firstly, there are the business that have been passed down since before the 2nd World War until they landed with the 1970s baby boomers families (who were then around 25 years old). This makes some of the current SME businesses second or third generation owned.
Secondly, there is the plethora of new businesses that the baby boomers decided to create themselves during the revolution between 1970 and 1985. If these businesses are still in existence today then the firm is well and truly established and in each case it is likely that the owner will now be well over 60 years old.
Yes, they have managed to hold on strong and keep their business driving forward whilst weaving through the hailstones of another fluctuating UK economy and many have survived. They settle in again and this time they settle into a ‘re-set’ economy, a little wiser and have a further chance to contemplate the likely evolution of the two precious futures, which only they control.
The first future is that of their personal destiny – their life - the previously distant ambitions and uplifting desires of what inspired them at the beginning to set the company up have now bought them through to retirement age.
They will have achieved most things and will be more profound in their thinking with different values and now with different drivers for their personal destiny. What they do next with their life - to retire - is one of the biggest and most emotive decisions of their life.
To lead a new life free from commerce, the desire to retire, to let go and turn to a new life beyond business. Health issues may force the decision and if not then age will certainly force it. It is only a matter of time.
So that is the first future that they are responsible for deciding upon, which is about themselves.
The second future is that of the future of the business and what to do with the cherished company, the secret infatuation, their intimate friend, their legacy, their wealth creator, their everything and their identity.
The two futures, enjoined, their future and that of the business – they now need to separate but yet they are both reliant on each other. The next move needs to be the right move.
Neither decision is easy, the first future will come from listening intensely to themselves and their family and must be worked out first before anything else. It is essential.
The second future, that of the business, the value, the exit, the staff, the legacy and everything connected with it. This is as complex as the first future.
How is it sold in a world that now has no bank debt facilities for SME, no private equity and is a buyers market with thousands of businesses for sale? The answer is not obvious. Acquisition advisory has also seen no real change or developments in processes and systems and principles since buyouts began in the 1980s.
Both futures are reliant on each other and both will be dictated by how the firm is sold. There is time for change and that time is now.
There is a new way, an ethical way, and a virtuous way where both futures will succeed.
For the solution you’ll have to read my next blog post..!