Warren Rutherford: How many baby boomers will retire with a business exit strategy?


It depends on what study you read or who you listen to, but there is a fact facing many employers –

  • There are 76 million people born between 1946 through 1964, commonly referred to as the baby boomers.
  • By many estimates, 9.2 million business owners are over 50 years old and
  • An estimated 8 million business owners will leave their companies in the next ten years. 

Sounds like baby boomer retirement planning will be important

If you’re part of this age-and-business- owner cohort, you have some decisions facing you:

  • Financial savings
  • Sale of the business
  • Careers in retirement

None of these decisions are that straightforward

As business owners start to think about their future decisions, it’s clear that many owners may not have prepared a plan to transition from their ownership into a partial or full retirement.

There’s an assumption that business owners need a plan in order to transition from their business. Several questions are normally asked –

  • “What’s your exit strategy?” “I’m sitting in it.”
  • “How much do you have set aside for retirement?” “Enough, I guess.”
  • “How much is your business worth and when do you plan to sell?” “I am not sure, and who said I want to sell?”

I recognize this may or may not be familiar.

  • What inhibits a business owner from retiring?
  • And what if it is the spouse who is retiring?
  • Are you the kind of owner that has been successful in business without a plan?
  • If you are, then what is the attraction in developing a plan to retire?
  • What would you like to do in retirement?

Do you need a transition plan?

Much to the chagrin of planners everywhere, you may not want a transition plan or an exit plan. Much to the chagrin of those ever-hopeful generation X millennial’s who aspire to business ownership, you also may not believe that they are prepared to take over the complexities of a business like yours.

“I don’t know if there is anyone who would be able to run this business like I have, it is so complex.”

Think Again!

Do you need baby boomer retirement planning?

So, do you really need engage in baby boomer retirement planning? Not necessarily, although it might help lower the stress and anxiety of those whom advise and care about you. Are you open to an alternative?

Success = self-awareness + authenticity

Success can be supported by a plan, but a plan is only a tool. Success has been proven to be most influenced by an individual’s level of self-awareness and authenticity. Success in retirement can be achieved by understanding how you can create your dream role in retirement by determining what you need to do in order to be more self-aware and authentic.

Understand the change in role

Consider the change in role that a business owner will make – full-time employment to partial or full retirement. The change in role does require the owner to modify his expectations. But if we know what contributed to his being successful, we can also understand how to use that knowledge to help him create a successful retirement. And let’s not underestimate the significance of this role modification – a life of work for 40 or more years to a life filled with uncertainty?  After all, what careers in retirement will suit you best?

Use a thoughtful, step by step process

The process is straightforward.

  • First, let’s understand how you make decisions about yourself.
  • Second, let’s understand who you are and get to know yourself better – your natural talents, behaviors, motivations and strengths.
  • Third, once you know yourself and are more self-aware, you will be prepared to choose yourself – how true you can be to your inner talents, the real key to creating authenticity in your new retirement role.
  • Fourth, create yourself – pull the trigger and start the path to your retirement; and
  • Fifth, reinforce your efforts through a regular review of the path you will take and readjust as necessary as you approach retirement, always being prepared to acquire additional skills.

Make your career transition exciting

Career transition can be an exciting process where you can become more self-aware of your natural talents, behaviors, values and strengths; understand how these affect your future view of successful retirement; and, by raising your level of self-awareness, becoming more authentic to yourself – more certain, more significant and more connected with the new role(s) you will choose.

What are your talents, your skills, your reasons and your way? Where do you want to go? How do you want to get there? What is your belief that you can get there?

On life’s wonderful journey through personal and work roles would it help a bit if you could learn how to become fully self-aware and authentic? If you started in business so you could live your dream job, doesn’t it make sense for you to start in retirement with you living your dream retirement?

Originally posted by Warren Rutherford on April 22, 2015 at 2:07pm

Updated: May 1, 2021

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