I just caught myself daydreaming about the day I retire. I’m not sure I have wrapped my arms around what that even means yet or how it will feel, but today it sure sounds nice. I imagine a perpetual feeling of being on vacation where I get manicures regularly, volunteer, and play with the grandkids. I know in this retirement dream I am living a life of leisure completely stress free. And just as quickly and easily as I was able to envision this retirement of my dreams, I’m jolted back to reality with the ding of my e-mail notification letting me know there was some issue in my business I needed to take care of.
As a wife, mother, and woman business owner I feel like I am constantly juggling the needs of my family and that of my business. There are times when it’s hard to consider the possibility of retiring let alone add another “to-do” item to my list labeled “plan for retirement.” It feels overwhelming, and who knows where to start? In addition, how do we overcome some of the challenges we were given simply by being born a woman? Here’s what I know . . .
If you are age 65 today, life expectancy for men is age 84.3, and life expectancy for women is age 86.6.1 This means, statistically speaking, we have to cover our income needs for a longer period of time.
Typically when it comes to taking time off to help care for children or raise a family, that responsibility often falls on the mother. In a Harvard Business Review survey conducted in 2005 of highly qualified professionals, they determined 43% of the women surveyed who have children did take time off compared to only 24% of men.2 Unfortunately that leads to either less saved toward retirement because we have less time to save it, or less income in retirement.
Not only do I have to worry about saving more because I will live longer, I also have my business to consider. Who will take it over? What does a retirement transition plan look like? Is it sustainable without me? What happens to the clients?
It’s important to not only plan for our individual retirement but also our business’s “retirement” from us.
My business is my baby. I have nurtured, loved, and cared for my business for over 20 years. It’s hard to imagine a day when, just like my children, I have launched and handed over the keys to my business to someone else.
My experience in working with other business owners is that it’s important to start creating your retirement plan both for you personally, as well as your business years in advance. I often use an analogy when meeting with clients that retiring is like climbing a mountain. A mountain climber wouldn’t create their plan to get down the mountain once they’ve reached the top. They would create their plan to get down the mountain before they even started their journey. This is one of the challenges today. We are often so focused on working IN our business that we don’t typically set aside time to work ON our business until it’s almost too late. Don’t wait! Set aside time regularly with no interruptions so you can work on your business, which includes its retirement plan.
Some of the considerations when creating your business retirement plan:
- Have you identified someone who you believe shares similar values and work ethic that might be a good candidate to take over your business?
- What transition period (how much time for the changeover) do you feel would create the highest probability for a successful transition?
- If you have identified a successor, what sort of training/onboarding will they need?
- Do you know the value of your business? If not, do you know a professional who can help with this?
- How will the financial aspect (buy-out) be structured?
- How will you best communicate to customers/clients about the transition to help them feel confident?
There are many aspects to making sure your business transition plan for retirement will be as successful as it can be. Take the time to think through how you envision your business’s retirement plan. Once you’ve created this vision, meet with a professional in this area to help you create and execute your plan. It’s important to first create a sound plan for you and your business to make that plan become a reality. Then you can focus on your other priorities both now and in retirement.
I just hit send on my response to the e-mail that so rudely woke me from my brilliant retirement dream. I will take the opportunity now to look at my calendar and block out some time to start my business’s retirement plan. Who knows . . . maybe I will be off to that manicure before I know it!