This post introduces the concept of “interim time,” which is the easily lost time between two critical goal posts in the life of a business owner, his or her current status quo and their business end game. It is, after all, what we do during this interim time that prepares us not only for our inevitable business end games, but also for the rest of our lives.
Goal Post 1: Where You Are Now? What is Your Status Quo?
Think about where you stand to day in relationship to the day that you will transition from or exit your business. It is more difficult to do than you think. It is easy to think about today and the press of work and life. It is far more difficult to think and to articulate, if only mentally, about our “business end games.”
Do you think you are well on your way to a successful business end game? If you are like most business owners, you have some doubts and concerns about the process of getting there and often would rather procrastinate or do something else.
The goal of thinking about where you are is to get comfortable with where you are now in relationship to where you are going. Wherever you are as you begin, hopefully, to think about your business end game is your current “status quo.” You are where you are. That’s neither good nor bad. It just is. What matters is what you do going forward.
Goal Post 2: The Business End Game
Where are you going? You are headed to what I call the business end game. Every business owner will transition from the management and ownership of his or her business. That’s inevitable, if only at the time of death, which is not often a good plan.
What is your business end game? Think about the business end game as the point in time or period of time at which or during which you will transition from management and ownership of your business. What you know is that it is in the future and it is difficult to think about for most business owners.
Your business end game is the result of the strategies, initiatives and activities that will enable you to make the transition from actively working in the business to being on the other side of the transition out. So what are those strategies, initiatives and activities? They must be worked on in what I call “interim time.”
Between the Goal Posts: Interim Time
Interim can be defined as the time that occurs between two specified periods or events. For purposes of this discussion, I define interim time as the time between your current status quo and your business end game. This is intentional. There is a provisional or temporary implication to the word interim. And that’s why interim time is so important.
You will not wake up one day when someone will tell you what you need to do to prepare for your business end game and what you must do to get ready. It won’t happen. Interim time just keeps on passing. You have to take control of time during your interim time and make decisions — and implement them — so that when your business end game arrives, it will be successful as you define success for you.
Your interim time may be another decade or more. It might be one year or less. Life is uncertain and we never know how much time we have or what will happen to change things in our lives.
What I do know from experience and observation is that those who plan for their business end games tend to have more successful transitions than those who don’t.
After the Business End Game: The Rest of Your Life
Successful business end games are of critical importance because they prepare us for the rest of our lives. For some of us baby boomers, perhaps most of us, the rest of our lives may last a long time. Life expectancy tables published by the Social Security Administration suggest that a 65 year old boomer has an 18 year life expectancy remaining if a man, and 20 years if a woman.
These are average life expectancies. Lots of boomers will live lots longer. Our business end games have to prepare us for at least the following for the rest of our lives:
- The financial means to live a long and indeterminate length of life.
- The resources to care for ourselves at the ends of our lives.
- Importantly, what we will be doing with our time and our lives while we remain healthy and vibrant long after our business end games.
I can’t cite a study, but I read somewhere that the majority of business owners are unhappy with their transitions within six months of selling their businesses. The article suggested that the source of unhappiness was not sellers’ remorse, but the fact that the selling owners had made no plans for what they would do after the sale.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
So far, we’ve talked about four concepts:
- Your current status quo. Where are you in relationship to your business end game?
- Your business end game. How clearly have you articulated your business end game, or the plan that will prepare you for the rest of your life?
- Interim time between your current status quo and your business end game. What are you doing during this slippery interim time to prepare for your business end game which must prepare your for…
- The rest of your life. For many of us, the rest of our lives following our business end games will be a long time. We need to know what we plan to do and how we will finance those plans.
The picture of what we are talking about looks like the following:
From observation and experience, it seems that most business owners have to identify a couple of important decisions up to, perhaps, five or six decisions that must be made and implemented during interim time. The number of decisions is not large. Their importance, however, can be staggering in our lives.
Good planning doesn’t require hundreds of decisions. It requires identifying the key decisions that need to be made, and then implementing them during interim time so that their impacts can reach fruition in time for your business end game.
I’ll make a list of as many possible interim decisions that a variety of business owners might consider in a future post. Not all will be relevant for everyone, of course, but I’d like to create some substance around this idea of decision-making and implementing during interim time.
In the meantime, the last chapter in my book, Unlocking Private Company Wealth, has more than 25 questions that business owners can ask and try to answer for themselves. These questions might provide some motivation to begin acting during interim time. This book is available with my Buy-Sell Agreements for Closely Held and Family Business Owners in a bundle for only $35 (plus s/h) in what we call the Ownership Transition Bundle, which also comes with additional free resources.
I hope you are enjoying this blog. Feel free to comment below or to me directly.
Until next time,