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Value Creation Blog

Moving From Operational Irrelevance To Ex-Owner

Posted by Josh Patrick

scared business personThe scariest thing that many business owners face is the day they leave their business for good.  While the owner has been going through the process of finding someone to take the business over they often haven’t had time to think about what’s next.

This is especially true for those who have not made themselves operationally irrelevant in their business.  Those who have been intimately involved in the day-to-day operations up to the day they leave have usually not taken the time to ask, much less answer what’s next in their lives.

I’ve come to believe that those owners who have taken the time to become operationally irrelevant in their business are able to make the transition to become an ex-owner more easily than those who haven’t.  This leads me to some reasons that I think you should consider giving others in your company more responsibility.

The cliff is really large if you’re not prepared.  The day you sell your business you become a non-person in your industry.  The phone stops ringing, people stop calling your for lunch and you fall of the radar screen of those who you thought were friends.  Sometimes this happens because you can’t do anything for these people anymore.  More often it’s just that you fall of the radar screen and we’re all very busy today.

The point here is that the emotional strain of becoming a non-person is such that unless you’re prepared (and even if you’re prepared) it’s an experience that will take some time getting used to.

If you’ve become operationally irrelevant you have had time to develop new interests.  When you stop running your business you’re not likely to want to play golf every day of the week.  You might do this for a few months, then you’ll start wanting to do something else.  Finding what that something else is can be an incredibly important thing for you to do.

I find that those who have developed activities that keep their mind involved are happiest and actually ready to leave their business when the time comes.  If you’re intimately involved in your business your not likely to develop these interests.  If you’ve moved to operational irrelevance you at least have the time to pursue other things besides your business.

After you leave your business you might feel depressed.  This is a normal experience for many people.  This same sort of depression might have happened when you first became operationally irrelevant. 

Being the go to person for everything helps feed our egos.  When we really delegate things in our companies we might experience a feeling of not being needed.  If you’ve successfully dealt with this, it might be easier for you to deal with the finality of selling or transferring your company.

I believe that operational irrelevance is truly an important step on the road to becoming an ex-owner.  And, whether we like it or not, we’re all going to be an ex-owner someday.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this entry.  Please contact me at Jpatrick@stage2planning.com or click on this link to set a time that’s convenient for you to speak with me.

Josh Patrick

I’ve put together a special report on relationships and roles in your business.  You can read out case study on how some business owner’s deal with burnout through managing their relationship with their business.  I think you’ll find the time invested worthwhile.  To order this complementary special report, click on the button below.



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Topics: operational irrelevance, business relationship management, business exit planning, passive ownership

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