In a blog post a couple of months back I mentioned that LinkedIn was becoming a really good resource for me. It continues to be a treasure trove of information and contacts.

I recently discovered a LinkedIn group called “Business Succession Planning Group”, so I joined and it did not take long for it to pay off. A group member from Minneapolis, Daniel Kurth of Human Performance LLC, made a post to the group that caught my eye.

I will use the key point of his message as the starting point to my blog this week. He introduces us to the “Three P’s of Transitioning Owners”.

Without further ado, they are: Paycheck, Purpose, and Place. Kurth’s thesis is that the exiting owner will only readily move on from the business once he has been able to replace those three P’s that the business has been providing.

Anyone who has ever worked in a business where the owner does not seem to be ready and willing to even entertain the thought of retirement can probably identify with at least one of these P’s being a major factor in the hesitation.

If the business has been successful for a number of years, the paycheck should be easy enough to replace. There is an entire industry of financial advisors and insurance product reps that will gladly help the future retiree ensure that monthly income to spend is replaced in a satisfactory way.

Let’s skip ahead to the last P, Place. Keeping and office, setting up a new office somewhere else, or simply getting into a new routine of meeting friends and colleagues somewhere on a regular basis, are all ways that people have gone about making sure that they “get out of the house” after retiring.

I really think that the toughest P to replace after selling or passing down a business, or even retiring from any job really, is Purpose.

I remember some friends of my parents who had 9-5 jobs who said they were looking forward to retiring, but once there, it almost drove them crazy. Somehow sleeping in, reading the paper, going for a walk, etc. can only cut it for so long.

For type “A’s” like most business owners and entrepreneurs, I wouldn’t give it more than a week or two before they would start going stir crazy. Folks who disliked their jobs look forward to retiring from the “grind” and they have trouble, imagine those who have a company they built to inspire them every day when they wake up.

Their business is often the driving purpose of everything, and has been for a long time. It cannot simply be switched off overnight. It can’t be expected to work that way. In theory, sure; in practice, no.

So for all those who want to help encourage someone to think about retiring some day, sooner rather than later, I suggest that you help them replace that P, the sense of Purpose that the business gives them.

Whether you are the succeeding generation waiting to take over, or the spouse who would rather spend more time together or take longer vacations, this is the place to concentrate your efforts.

But do not expect things to happen quickly. Start early and try to help them find hobbies, causes, worthwhile organisations, boards of directors, anything that can get them excited and where they can put their skills, energy and desire to good use.

There are surely other purposes that can slowly but surely become more and more important in their lives, and eventually allow them to exit the business because they have found a new sense of purpose. If they don’t get there, they might stay around forever.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.