What’s Next: How to Prepare for the Next Opportunity in Your Life

August 18, 2015 by Thomas A. Pampush, Partner | Natalie M. Perry, Partner
What’s Next: How to Prepare for the Next Opportunity in Your Life

The following is an excerpt from Ice Miller's Business Transition Strategies to Preserve Wealth Guide, which provides insights on a variety of topics to help ensure a smooth business transition. 

You are rightfully proud of how you turned the family business over to the next generation, just as it was planned. But did you plan for yourself and your spouse in the post-succession phase of life? How will your spouse react to the daily presence of a retired workaholic? How will you fill your days?

Succession plans often ignore these critical issues, impacting the overall success of the plan and happiness of the participants.

Succession is about people.

Family business succession should be about the people it impacts as well as the business. A suitable successor, hopefully chosen with family input, will be trained over the course of years by assigning ever-increasing responsibilities and transferring key relationships.

While this operational aspect of succession is proceeding, it is critical to also implement a life transition plan for the founder and other family members. Failure to do so can have some dramatic and sometimes destructive repercussions.

Ice Miller - What to do after retirement, post-retirement planningLife transition planning.

A solid succession plan should include life transition aspects, as well as provide the family with a clear guide to the legacy of the business and its importance to the family.

Implementation of the succession and life transition plan should be seamless - there is no set date when the keys are left on the successor’s desk. Instead, one day everyone realizes that succession has already taken place and the former owner is well into life after the daily grind.

If you are the founder or a next-generation owner of a family business, you likely are driven, enjoy challenges, like calling the shots and enjoy a community reputation associated with the business. You may have worked long hours, leaving your family members to develop independent social networks. These traits will follow you into your post-work life.

As you are transitioning the business, you will need to integrate into the family and community in new ways. As daunting as this sounds, with proper planning, the process can be painless and immensely rewarding.
Well before retirement, owners should ask themselves the following questions:

  • How will my role in the family change?
  • Once retired, how will my presence at home impact your spouse? Many retired founders interfere with the lives of their spouses established over the course of years.

With some forethought, you can make the transition without putting stress on your marital relationship by finding individual outlets for achievement and socialization. Too often, the retired owner simply replaces the home for the business as the domain to be lorded over. The spouse, who may have been household leader for years, takes understandable umbrage. The emergence of the retired founder can also destabilize the emotional foundation established by the spouse. With clear communication through family councils, the various family roles can be altered and shared with a new emphasis on balance.

What will be my role in the business?

After succession, the next generation will be energized to move the business forward. Different personalities mean the new management will have its own strengths and ideas. The former owner should let the next generation succeed and fail in its own right.

To learn more, download the Business Transition Strategies to Preserve Wealth Guide or contact Tom Pampush or Natalie Perry.

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