In the ever-changing landscape of business, where startups can skyrocket or vanish overnight, the journey from small business owner to industry veteran is nothing short of remarkable. What should you do when you’ve built a successful business over two, three, or four decades? Should you retire, or should you continue running the show until the end?
The Essence of a Business
A fundamental principle in business is that it should be designed to operate independently. Your business is a living entity, much like a well-functioning organism. So, what should you consider when you find yourself in your 60s or 70s after dedicating a lifetime to your business? Is retirement the next logical step?
Legacy and Purpose
Contrary to common perception, entrepreneurs don’t typically retire solely for financial gain or out of sheer greed. The decision to retire often arises from exhaustion, health concerns, family matters, or a sense of stagnation. These factors raise a fundamental question: What drives business owners to continue or to step away from their enterprises?
I believe there are deeper motivations that underpin the decisions of business owners. The journey of entrepreneurship begins with an audacious act of courage, often driven by necessity. It involves doing things differently, leveraging your skills and knowledge, and creating something unique that leaves an indelible mark on the world. This is the genesis of meaning in one’s entrepreneurial voyage.
Furthermore, business owners must care deeply about their employees, suppliers, and customers. Being in service to others while nurturing creativity adds profound meaning to one’s life. The fusion of creativity and service forms the very essence of an entrepreneur’s existence.
The Challenge of Letting Go
When a business is well-established and capable of operating autonomously, the thought of retirement may cross your mind. But what comes next? This is a question that every aspiring retiree must confront. The routines, habits, and rituals that have defined your daily life suddenly vanish. Where can you find purpose in the post-retirement phase?
Creating a Vision for Progress
One way to ensure a fulfilling transition is by envisioning your role within the industry. Consider the story of an 84-year-old business owner who, due to a lack of innovation and systematization, couldn’t let go of his business. Had he exited at the zenith of his business’s success and reinvested in nurturing emerging businesses within the industry, he would have continued to make a meaningful impact and maintain a sense of purpose.
The journey of a business owner doesn’t have to conclude with retirement. It can transform into a purposeful existence that fuels innovation and contributes to the industry’s growth. These insights remind us that entrepreneurship isn’t just about creating wealth; it’s about crafting lasting legacies that endure beyond one’s lifetime. So, whether you choose to retire or remain at the helm, your decision should align with your vision for a meaningful and impactful journey in the world of business.
To listen to the full discussion from the show: