For years, I have worked with a business coach to help me balance business
and personal goals. As the owner of a company, I have rarely had an internal
sounding board or confidante, someone who could challenge me on whether I was
right or wrong. Working with a business coach has changed all of that. He helps
me explore needs vs. wants, the structure and flexibility of my personal and
professional lives, work and family issues, lies vs. truth-telling, etc. In
short, my coach has helped me run my company rather than it running me.
During one of my meetings with a business coach we discussed the
emotional struggle owners experience when exiting their businesses. We talked about
all the steps necessary to sell a business and where a business coach would be
helpful in the process.
Surprisingly, the one area that commanded most of our attention was “What
do business owners want to do after they sell their businesses?” While most
business owners say they want to retire, what most actually want is to move
onto something else.
What Comes Next?
Thinking of your own retirement may conjure images of sitting on the porch
every day, reading a book, and sipping a glass of lemonade (or something
stronger). This might seem desirable, but it’s not likely to last very long—not
because you need to work necessarily or lack financial security, but because of
that entrepreneurial spirit deep inside . . . because of who you
You go to the gym and lose weight. You try to sleep in (but it never
works). You read more, work on projects around the house, and take some of the
trips you always wanted to go on. It’s great, but that was just the first month
or two . . . now you’re bored.
Let’s face it, entrepreneurs are self-motivated, overachieving,
independent thinkers who need both mental and physical stimulation.
The concept of retirement is nice and definitely works for some, but most
small business owners eventually get bored and become involved in “something”
after they’ve taken 6 to 12 months to catch their breaths and reflect on their
successes and failures. So rather than thinking of “retirement” as what comes
next after you sell your business, the more accurate term might be that you are
making a “transition” from one phase of your life to another.
I can tell you personally that just as many professional athletes go
into coaching or management after they retire, so too will you want to give
back to your profession in some way. For athletes, the love of their sport made
them successful in the first place, and it’s what keeps pulling on their
heartstrings. It’s the same for entrepreneurs.
Working with a Coach
In the past 10 years, professional coaching (business, life, and other
specialties) has really moved into the mainstream. There are literally thousands
of professional coaches out there who can help. Coaches are not counselors or
therapists. They have been trained to help you figure out what’s next for you,
personally and/or professionally. Coaches help you set personal goals and
objectives, and they keep you on track and accountable so you get the results
To find a coach, visit Google and search for professional coaches,
business coaches, or executive coaches. Consider visiting the International
Coaching Federation (ICF) Web site at www.coachfederation.org.
The ICF credentials thousands of coaches after hundreds hours of rigorous
training and experience. You might also ask someone you know who has worked
with a coach. Word-of-mouth referrals are often still the best way to connect.