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Where Will Life Take You After Exiting Your Business?

By Ryan Binkley

Where Will Life Take You

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article reviewing why supporting a business owner through the emotions of selling a business can be the most challenging part of the entire exit process.

That’s because a business is more than just a building. It’s more than just a job. It is something that you have devoted years to, nurturing it into what it is today. It is something you have invested heavily into, both financially and emotionally. For many owners, the business is a big part of their identity.

So, finding ways to guide entrepreneurs through the process of selling a business is one of our dealmaker’s top priorities at Generational Group, and we accomplish this by:

  • Having honest, open discussions with you and your support network about your reasons for departing in order to ensure that all parties are part of the exit process
  • Sharing our experiences through the years of having helped over 1,000 business owners exit successfully (and deal with the emotions of doing so)
  • Taking time to review and rationalize your own feelings
  • Having a clear idea about what you will do with your life after your exit
  • Ensuring that you have a wealth management plan in place to optimize your post-exit plans

Of these areas we focus on, perhaps the one that generates the most questions for us is this:

What will I do for the rest of my life if I sell my business?

This is a question we have been asked countless times by entrepreneurs on the fence about exiting their companies. And our answer is always the same:

Whatever you want to do!

That might sound a little simplistic, but that doesn’t make it any less true. By achieving an optimal exit from your business, you secure the time and resources to pursue any dream you have now that you’re no longer tied to your company.

Try imagining what you would do if someone handed you $5 million and said you can do what you like with it. The possibilities are endless!

Now, what you would do will vary wildly from every other business owner, depending on your passions, priorities and place in life. For example, if you’re not ready to step away from the challenges of running a business, your exit could be the creation of another venture.

For others looking to get away from these pressures for good, there’s a whole world of opportunity available. You could use this to fall back in love with a pastime you’ve neglected due to your company commitments, or start a new hobby that you’ve always been interested in, but never had the time or energy to devote to it due to your old schedule.

You could spend time learning a new skill, like a musical instrument or surfing. Pursue charity and volunteering in your community. Travel the globe to embrace new cultures and diverse experiences. Or simply enjoy a well-earned break by spending more time at home with your family, friends and other loved ones.

As I said, the possibilities are endless. And the best thing about this? There is no wrong answer – it all depends on your personal preferences.

If you’re looking for inspiration to spark your motivations to exit, I would highly recommend checking out this article from the Spring Edition of Vistage’s Perspectives magazine. In it, they tell the stories of three former company owners and what they have done since departing their company – there’s plenty to help you get the gears turning there (and be sure to check out our page in the magazine as well – Growth Strategies That Deliver Results).

The inspiring stories of Generational clients can also highlight identifiable reasons why they decided to leave their businesses, and offer an insight into how they’re now making the most of life after their exit. Check some of them out below:

How having a plan helps optimize your exit

It is unquestionable that having a solid idea of what you intend to do after exiting your business can help you better come to terms with your exit, and make the process a lot less emotionally draining.

But, beyond that, this can also improve your prospects of achieving an optimal exit. How so? First, your post-business ambition will give you an indication of what an ideal transaction looks like to you. If your goal is to travel to every corner of the world, your financial requirements will likely look a lot different to someone planning to spend time at home and maybe take up painting. Or, you may want a financial partner to help you grow the business to the next level and then exit.

It doesn’t need to be a fully-fleshed out 10-year plan from the outset. For many clients we’ve worked with at Generational Group, their journey started with our initial evaluation, followed by our roadmap for enhancing value, then a meeting with our Consulting Team to develop a growth plan and finally, long before closing any deal, examining post-close wealth management ideas with our Wealth Management Advisors. You see this is why our services are unique (and very successful): We provide guidance at every step of the way through the exit journey of a client.

Secondly, by having a level of excitement for your post-sale life in mind, it makes it significantly less likely that you will get cold feet at the eleventh hour and pull out of the transaction. In my decades working in M&A, this is a scenario I’ve encountered numerous times, and it is very problematic, we work hard to help our clients avoid this.

Conceptualizing what you can do and what you want to do after exiting your business makes this indecision less likely, and helps prevent buyer’s remorse once the deal is closed. This allows you to focus on securing an optimal exit, rather than spend time conflicted over whether or not you are making the right decision.

4 tips to help determine your post-business destination

Our Professionals with Generational understand better than anyone that it can take a while to figure out what you want to do post-exit, particularly if your identity has become entwined with your business. It is easier said than done, which is why as M&A advisors, we will work closely with clients to help guide them through the entire process.

With that in mind, here are some tips I can offer for figuring out how to spend your post-business life.

1. Start by looking internally and considering the things in life that you are passionate about beyond your business. If you find you’re dreading the idea of being bored when you’re no longer at the helm of your company, ask yourself things like:

  • How can I use my skills and experience to benefit others?
  • What’s a skill that I’ve always wanted to learn, but never had the time?
  • Where’s a place I’ve longed to travel to?
  • What’s something I enjoyed earlier in life that I’d love to return to?
  • Do I want to devote more time to my spouse, kids, grandkids and pets?
  • What charities am I passionate about and could devote time/resources to?

2. When you have considered what you may want to do post-exit, start setting goals and objectives to reach each of these. What exactly do you want to get out of these pursuits? This can help determine a clear schedule for your life after business, which can consequently reduce the risk of boredom.

3. To both test the waters of your newfound passion, and also loosen the ties between yourself and your business, start taking short breaks away from your company to try a few things out. By leaving control of your business to trusted executives, you will have greater faith that it will survive and thrive beyond your tenure, helping you feel more comfortable about your departure.

4. Work with a professional M&A advisor to talk through any concerns or doubts you have about your future post-exit. Having someone who's willing to listen and offer you reassurance about your decision can significantly strengthen your resolve, alongside the guidance they can provide that will optimize the value of your sale. And again, our team is unique in that we have Generational Wealth Advisors to help our clients determine how much capital they will need post-exit to achieve their financial goals, no matter what they may be.

Winning the mental battle behind a successful exit

One way or another, every business owner departs their company one day. In fact, in my experience there are two types of business owner:

  1. Those that PLAN to exit
  2. Those that HAVE to exit

It is always preferable to be in the first of these groups – this means that you have dedicated time to making your company buyer-ready, are likely receiving professional guidance to locate an appropriate buyer, and are on the journey to securing an optimal exit.

Having a strong idea about what you will do once you leave your business is a big help in overcoming the emotional battle that happens with practically every exit. When you have spent years growing your company into what it is today, and formed tight bonds with your employees, customers and suppliers, it can be hard to even think about life without it.

By considering what opportunities you could explore in the future, be it a hobby, travel, or more time with the family, it can allow you to approach the exit not with regret or fear, but with excitement about your next chapter.

And, of course, working closely with an M&A advisory firm like Generational Group will not only help you navigate this challenging transition, but also greatly enhance the likelihood that you will receive an offer that enables you to enjoy life after business in the way you want to.

If you’d like more insight into optimally exiting a business and to learn techniques to maximize your company’s value and find an ideal buyer, I’d recommend checking out Generational’s regularly updated Insights, or attending a Generational Growth and Exit Planning Conference.

We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
We were represented by Michael Goss with Generational. The due diligence was grueling and exhausting, but Michael propped us up and kept us motivated throughout the process. Debi and I continued to ask each other how we could possibly make it through this process without the assistance of Michael. Michael's professionalism and knowledge is absolutely amazing, and we are so blessed to have had him by our side as we made our future dreams come true.
Bob and Debi Lee, Owners of BL Technology, Inc and BL Tl Services, LLC
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Michael worked tirelessly, He followed every lead meticulously and urgently to make sure nothing was missed.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.
Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!
Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
The most important contribution I think Ahmad made was with his personality and work ethic. He is sincere, efficient, and very hard working. He was available to me at all times, whether it was for specific detail of the negotiation or just to talk through the bigger picture. He listened, advised, and recommended, but never forced his idea or opinions. In the time we worked together, he became a valued colleague and also a friend.
Salvo Stoch, Founder and CEO of Sleeping Partners
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for us. Not only did you take care of all the aspects of the sale but took extra care to make sure we knew what it looked like every step of the way. I will definitely recommend your company to anyone that is in a position to or looking to exit their business.
Shane and Johanna Kline, Owners of Vision Upfitters
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.
Pete L.
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.
Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
After attending a conference with GE, I decided that the value they bring would be worth the expense and as soon as I started working with them, I realized that was the right decision. When we started to get LOIs, Fred Zweifel took the lead on the communication and supported negotiations throughout the process, which got tricky as we moved forward. I learned that it can be common for companies to make a great offer then work to erode that price with their discoveries, but Fred and the GE team kept that from happening.
Caroline Connelly, CEO, OptoTest
Through the sale process, Generational brought in several interested buyers and we closed in about 6 months. I am so glad I accepted that invitation to the conference and could not be happier with the whole process. The team at Generational coupled with their knowledge and guidance was so valuable that in the end, I know I could never have done this on my own!
JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.
Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
We were happy to see the interest in our company and what we cherished has not just a valuable company but an important company to the communities we served in.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Thanks to you, the entire GE team and especially Michael Goss for driving a great valuation, coaching me and driving the process across the finish line. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support GE going forward. P.S. Given my experience with GE I felt comfortable enough to sign up with Generation Wealth Advisors!
Tom Currier, Former President & CEO, Rackmount Solutions
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I couldn’t have asked for a better team than Michael and Deborah. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.
Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
I decided to attend the conference and hopefully receive some guidance on how to structure an exit plan of my business. Upon arriving at the conference, I was so impressed with the presentation given by Generational Equity that I set a future appointment that week to discuss the possibility of selling my business with their Senior Managing Director David Robinson.
JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
The professionals at Generational Equity then helped develop a roadmap for enhancing the value of the firm and an evaluation report. This was completed by June 14, 2021. We then developed the Confidential Information Memorandum and put Taylor Studios, Inc. on the market by July.
Generational Equity’s professional staff helped me every step of the way. Their network and professionals are the only reason I sold my company this quickly. For me this is a once in a lifetime sale and I was unfamiliar with the process. I was able to lean on them with questions and concerns.
Betty L. Brennan, President, Taylor Studios
I quickly recognized that Don was working for Sharpe Mixers above all else, and held our interests above others.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
We had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ahmad Behjati Managing Director, M&A, for Generational Equity during our acquisition of Papa's Dodge in late 2021. Generational Equity and Mr. Behjati represented and marketed Papa’s Dodge. As our primary contact, Mr. Behjati was professional in every facet of this acquisition process, conveying valuable advice most times and assisting us in every step of the process.
Rick Greene of Dobbs Equity Partners LLC