Part 3: The Owner Is Ready
Maybe you are anxious to exit your business. Or perhaps you dread the day you will no longer be involved. Either way for a successful business transfer you need to be ready.
It has been my experience that when people think they are ready and even eager to exit the business they have only given thought to what they are “getting out of ” and little if no thought to what they are “getting in to.”
It is one thing to be sick and tired of the daily demands of funeral service and the accompanying stresses. It is a much different thing to step into a new life and realize that you no longer can enjoy the perks of your former business. Not too long ago I had a client just like this. Since the sale he has tried a variety of ventures but found none as lucrative or satisfying as funeral service…in spite of its challenges.
Or, perhaps, you don’t want to leave. You love what you do and can’t see anything else as satisfying. I see nothing wrong with planning to remain active as long as your health permits. But therein lies the catch…“as long as your health permits.” I have another client, now in his 80’s, whose health has declined precipitously. So much so that he has been unable to work for more than two years. He and his family are entirely dependent on the good will of his employees and particularly their key man.
So, while I don’t see anything wrong for you to plan on remaining active for your lifetime, I believe it is morally wrong for you to leave your family and employees AND customers to clean up the mess you leave because you were too stubborn to adopt a continuity plan or even maintain a disability insurance policy.
So whether you are anxious to leave, or plan on “dying in the saddle” you owe it to yourself to think about and plan for life after the sale. To get yourself and your family ready for that 100% chance of eventual transition.
Begin with answering some of these questions:
- When I am no longer THE funeral director is it important that I still be needed in some capacity?
- If I am no longer involved what will I do to replace my need for purpose?
- How will I occupy my time in meaningful ways?
- If I died or became incapacitated while still working do I have written instructions on who to contact and what to do?
A final thought:
Some years ago two of my clients (independent of each other) appointed me as executor in their will. Their reason was they felt I would “take care of their family.” I was honored. The problem was they didn’t tell me until some time later. So, had they died, it would have been a surprise for which I might have been unprepared. Maybe I would be willing to perform that function but am probably too old now. HOWEVER, I have often reflected on their thinking and believe their thinking was sound. It would be a great idea (especially if you are in a study group) to ask a couple of non competing colleagues to act on your behalf of your family during a transition. BUT, you should not ask someone who might be interested in buying your firm as it would be a conflict of interest.