Day One

Imagine that you sold your company for a sum that would make lottery winners envious.  Yesterday the closing took place and you celebrated way past your bed time.  It’s now morning and you awoke to the sun’s glow filling your room and of course, you habitually reach for your phone.  But there are no urgent messages!  Yes, your foggy brain whispers to you, everything has been forwarded to the new owner.

Now what do you do?

Welcome to the Day One problem.  The problem arises when first time former business owners are not prepared for what they are going to do the day after selling.  Some begin to experience withdrawal from the responsibility they were accustomed to bearing.  Some even attempt to fill that withdrawal with leisure activity.  But filling their life with leisure activity quickly leaves them unfulfilled.  Boredom and uncertainty creeps in and they begin to regret the change.

You see, most business sellers think they will play golf, fish, sew, travel, etc.  (perhaps even go and do all these things with grand-children) but leisurely activity is fleeting.  It works for a short time, but it doesn’t sustain them for the next season of their life.

Owners dreaming of retirement or exit need a plan – a Day One plan that provides purpose and motivation for them on that first morning of freedom from their prior work life.  Sure, a bit of leisure including some R&R is appropriate, in fact it may even be critical to the plan.  But the plan must be beyond the celebration and excitement of the sale, beyond the rest & relaxation – it must include a vision of what is next.  What is the purpose for the next season of your life?

For those we encounter that are beginning to dream of life after their business, we require them to think about what happens AFTER the sale and encourage them to build a plan.  Experience has taught us (and research now confirms) that owners who have a plan for the next season of their life are much happier than those that don’t.  And wouldn’t it be a shame to have time and money but no happiness?

I was reminded of this today reading Roy Williams’ Monday Morning Memo dated February 18, 2019 titled “When Men Retire.”  In this beautiful message, Roy refers to using your “superpower” in retirement to continue to fulfill your purpose in the next season of life.  What a beautiful and poetic way to describe this Day One issue – I wish I’d thought of it.  It got me thinking about the experience of a recent client of ours:

A couple sells the company they founded, built and presided over for more than 3 decades.  A health scare caused them to accelerate plans to sell, but they always had a dream for the next chapter of their life.  Following the sale, the owners focused on the health issues which miraculously disappear after only 120 days.  Then they began to develop a plan built on their dream – to use a portion of their realized proceeds to build a school in their native country so that others less fortunate than themselves have more opportunity.  Now they are diligently working to realize that vision with their plan.  They have the time, money and freedom to achieve their plan and they have zero regrets over selling their company.  In fact, they feel reinvigorated with their big plans and know they have the means and capabilities to make it happen.

The Bottom Line –

As a Business Owner, focus beyond your dream of retirement or exit from the business.  Allow yourself to dream of what you could do on Day One and beyond and don’t allow yourself to be fooled into thinking it will be filled only with leisure activity.  Focus on your “superpower” and how you can use that to build on the fulfillment and contentment in your life expanding your purpose beyond the 4 walls of your soon to be former business life.  Your dream of having time and money will be hollow without a purpose – find your future purpose and set your focus on the next season of your life in order to experience the contentment and fulfillment you dream of.   Plan for it to happen!

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