Preparing for the Many Unknowns of Life After Business Ownership

By Published On: June 30, 2022Categories: Business Ownership4.2 min read

As CEO of CornerCap, I frequently get to meet the fascinating men and women who’ve built successful businesses within and around our community. Often, they’re planning for a major liquidity event, which typically means selling their business and using the proceeds to fund some version of retirement.

Yet life after business ownership can come with many unknowns, especially for business owners who’ve wrapped their identities up in their life’s work. For many retired business owners, it takes years to settle into a life that they find satisfying.

Indeed, the next phase of life doesn’t just require financial preparation. It also requires a shift in mindset—as well as a strategy for how to navigate uncharted waters. In other words, it helps to have a plan that answers the question, “What’s next?”

Two books that I’ve found particularly helpful for business owners struggling to answer this question are How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen and Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance by Bob Buford. I believe these books powerfully communicate our Life Appreciates philosophy in ways that can help any business owner prepare for a fulfilling life after business ownership.

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen

As a Harvard Business School professor and world-class business strategist, author Clayton Christensen noticed that many successful entrepreneurs and business owners, despite their accomplishments, were unhappy with their lives. The symptoms of their unhappiness were often divorce, disease, or worse.

With this observation in mind, Christensen began challenging his graduating students to answer three simple yet powerful questions:

  • How can I be sure that I will be successful and happy in my career?
  • How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse, my children and my extended family and close friends become an enduring source of happiness?
  • How can I be sure that I live a life of integrity – and stay out of jail?

These questions, along with Christensen’s personal guidelines for how to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, are the foundation of How Will You Measure Your Life?

Christensen notes that one of the common mistakes individuals make is believing we can invest in life sequentially—career first, then marriage, then family, and so on. However, doing so often results in career-focused individuals putting their personal relationships on the backburner. And since, Christensen argues, our personal relationships are the path to true happiness, many successful people find themselves living unfulfilling lives.

All of us have the freedom to decide how we allocate our most precious resources—time, energy, and money. Indeed, how we spend these resources makes a powerful statement about who we are and what we believe is important. It also directs the course of our lives, whether we’re conscious of it or not. I love this book because it provides a set of principles that can help you develop a strategy for your life and career, so that life after business ownership is still full of meaning and happiness.

Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance by Bob Buford

Those of us who have experienced (or are approaching) middle age likely understand the crisis mentality that often accompanies it. However, author Bob Buford argues that the second half of life can be even better than the first. The key is to shift the focus of your life from success to significance.

For many successful individuals, the first half of life is busy with “getting and gaining, earning and learning” while climbing the ladder of success. Buford believes that the second half of life should be about charting a new course by identifying your personal goals and redefining what significance means for you.

He refers to the period in between as “halftime.” Halftime is an opportunity for contemplation, self-reflection, and intention so that the next phase of life doesn’t scare you—it inspires you.

Eventually, all of us learn that true happiness doesn’t come from our next victory or achievement. It comes from living a life that’s in alignment with our personal values and goals while serving others. The reason I love Halftime is that it helps take the guesswork out of life after business ownership by offering a clear path to a more fulfilling future.

Your Story Is More Than Your Net Worth

We developed our Life Appreciates philosophy because we understand that a financial plan isn’t meaningful unless it reflects each client’s personal journey. Any time I come across a resource — whether a book, program, movie or a thoughtful observer — that I believe gives new perspective to this philosophy, I can’t wait to share it with colleagues, clients, and friends.

Whether you’re in the prime of your career, preparing for life after business ownership, or embracing retirement, I hope these two books help you find more meaning, purpose, and happiness in life. Because as we like to say at CornerCap, “Your story is more than your net worth.”

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