Exiting Family Business Owners need planning and support as they transition into retirement
Updated: Nov 8
Transitioning out of the business and into retirement can be particularly hard for business owners, especially those who have built and managed a successful business for many years. While there is internal and external support and planning for the next generation to prepare them for the responsibility that lies ahead, there is very little structure and guidance for founders moving on to the third stage of life. Apart from financial planning it is still a rarity for business owners to spend focused time considering how they want to live and who they want to be once they have exited the business. This sets up an unfortunate dynamic whereby the next generation is gently or not so gently nudging the senior generation out the door, and the senior generation are holding on while digging in their heels.
The owner's reluctance not only to exit but even to begin transition planning can be rooted in the their hesitancy to face their mortality and the aging process. Add to this the looming unknown of retirement, concerns about who will take over the business, and worrying how their legacy will be preserved makes the owner’s reluctance understandable. You just need to put yourself in their shoes.
When trying to address this issue with exiting owner’s there can be a tendency to jump to solution with token positions in the business or a seat on the board. Perhaps a partner or family member is enticing them with travel and leisure activities all of which can eventually contribute to a thriving post work life. But trying to solve the “problem” without first helping the exiting owner to take stock and consider what a fulfilling life could look like is leap frogging over the deeper issues at play. Questions about purpose, identity and meaning need to be asked, letting go and grieving this ending needs to be allowed, taking space and time to self-reflect before acting encouraged.
If business owners can be supported to take the time to prepare themselves and not just their business for this big change, they are more likely to make a healthy adjustment and thrive in a post work life.
Russel Baskin has been working with families and advisors in a variety of capacities for the past 15 years. She brings a human development background and a passion for family enterprise to her coaching, consulting, and education work. Before joining Trella, she was the National Director of Education and Programming for Family Enterprise Canada. Russel has persistently prioritized the development and implementation of insightful, comprehensive education opportunities to guide individuals, families, and their advisors to make better decisions, gain clarity and think strategically.
Learn more about Russel and the rest of the Trella team on our About page.