Organization Development Network of Western New York

SELLING DILEMMAS Retirement Challenges Every Business Owner Must Face

Posted in ODN of WNY Members, Succession Planning by Michael Cardus on March 20, 2010

Dilemma: A situation involving a choice between equally unsatisfactory alternatives.

Sooner or later, all business owners will face a time when they need to make decisions about their future – specifically their retirement. They love what they are doing but they recognize that ‘things are changing’ and they have to change, too. They want to stay but know they must step aside. They face two dilemmas.

One dilemma is the choice between staying with the business because they love what they are doing versus holding on for too long and stifling the company’s future, dragging it down, and burning up their personal net worth (retirement income) in the process.

The other dilemma is the choice between selling internally – to family, partners, staff – expecting to leave a legacy versus selling to an outside buyer, generating more retirement income but giving up hope for having an impact on the future of the company.

Resolving both dilemmas depends upon the selling owner making strategic decisions well in advance of the time when he or she must begin execution.

The issues are both personal and business related but the beginning point is personal. The seller’s personal decisions will provide the framework for the business decisions that will follow.

Both dilemmas are difficult to resolve unless the owner is willing to make and execute choices – to look forward, to create a new life style that is as equally attractive and potentially satisfying as running the business. I call that "Building a boat to step onto before walking off the dock."

Over the next several articles, we will look into these two dilemmas and explore strategies for business owners to resolve them – to make their "Grand Transition" into the "Third Phase" of their life.

Pete Wendel

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