"The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now" - source unknown
You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve worked hard. You’ve sacrificed time with your family, time with your friends, time doing things you used to do for fun. You’ve been through ups and downs and learned to live with uncertainty.
And maybe you’ve thought about cashing out or taking some chips off the table. But what exactly does that mean? Let me ask you a different, but—as you’ll see—related question. When you hear the word 'wealth’, what comes to mind? Cash? Real estate? Stocks? Maybe it’s all of these things and more. But is there more to wealth than just money? Are there things that you value more than money?
What’s More Important Than Money?
Over the past two decades, we’ve worked with many entrepreneurs as they transition from a singular focus on business success to the next phase of their lives. When asked them about the things they value more than money, often they say health or family or their personal expression of spirituality. They wouldn’t trade these essential elements of their lives for more money. Yet how often have we, as entrepreneurs, done just that in the past?
The business does not exist separate from your life; it's an integral part of you and your wealth. But so are your health, family, relationships and many other things. There’s a saying among nearly all cultures on earth and it goes something like this: shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. It means that all the hard work and success of the wealth-creating entrepreneur is dissipated by the subsequent two generations of family members. Will that be what happens in your family?
Selling on Your Terms
Selling your business on your terms can mean selling for the maximum amount of money so that you can then reacquaint yourself with the people whom you didn't spend enough time with while you were becoming successful. Or maybe revisit hobbies or passions that you've neglected in pursuit of success?
And, after you’ve sold, even if it’s on your terms, then the question comes up: now what? In other words, what are you going to do with the rest of your life? When is the right time to start thinking about these things? I can tell you that if it's the day after you've sold, you’ve probably waited too long.
So, assuming that you haven’t cashed out yet, here are some thoughts on what you can do now to start preparing for your transition to the rest of your life:
1. Get in touch with what’s most important in your life.
Start with what you’re most grateful for. Perhaps it’s the people in your life; your family, your close friends, your colleagues at work who’ve helped you build your success. Having an appreciative, grateful attitude opens up the path to true wealth.
2. Rediscover what you truly enjoy doing.
Whether it’s hobbies, volunteer work or even the work that you currently do, where there’s a passion, there’s a future. Find the time to explore that passion.
3. Find time for contribution.
Shift your thinking from achieving more money, recognition and authority to what you can do with these assets that could help others.
Certainly seeking pleasure is worthwhile; however, those who contribute to the well-being and advancement of others have a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment than those who focus solely on pleasure and personal consumption. The focus doesn’t have to be on charity or philanthropy; it could be on supporting younger family members or close business contacts in their work. The point is to stay engaged in contributing.
4. Start putting together your team for the future.
Even if you trust them and respect them, the advisors that got you to this point may not be the right ones to sustain you through the next phase of your life. They may even be thinking of cashing out themselves and may not be available to assist.
To use a team analogy, build some bench strength, especially if something unexpected were to happen to you or to them.
5. Get into motion.
We believe that the best way to get into motion and stay in productive motion is to engage a coach. Coaching takes education and training one critical step further by adding immediate feedback and tough love or motivation.
6. Commit yourself to preserving and optimizing 'true' family wealth.
Decide that you’re not going to succumb to shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. Educate yourself on ways to preserve family wealth.
Go out there and plant that oak tree today.