You’ve Reached the Summit!  Now What Happens?  

It’s hard not to be intrigued by these individuals who are driven to reach the top of the world’s highest mountains.  While reading, I found this interesting article questioning whether the summits have actually been reached (and whether it matters) World’s Highest Summits Reached?

May 11, 2021 — It does not always matter if the top is reached. As Viesturs pointed out, it is called climbing, not summiting. The point is often the process. (New York Times) 

If you, a landscape business owner – like a mountain-climber (“mountaineer”) – have spent years building up your skills and stamina to arrive at your desired goal.  Your business is healthy and desirable, and you have just successfully sold it for the price that you wanted.  You’ve achieved the summit! Congratulations. 

Would it surprise you to learn that you might find yourself experiencing depression after the closing and shortly into the transition?  Business owners often do. (Although they seldom want to admit it.)   Sounds illogical, but just like these successful mountaineers, you will have worked very hard to achieve a seemingly impossible goal and you managed to achieve your goal.  You’ve survived recessions, 9/11, the pandemic, and other issues and led your business to success.  Now, after achieving your “peak” and selling for the price you wanted, suddenly you have a new identity.  

You are no longer the owner of that business, the employer of those team members, the vendor to those customers, the customer of those bankers and nurseries.  After years of learning to spend twelve hours a day away from your family, you now are spending almost all your time at home.  Having you around is a change for those at home too, and all these new ways of being are disconcerting and unsettling.  All you wanted was to have sufficient funds to retire comfortably and not have to work in the business any longer, but now you realize a lot of your identity was involved in being the owner. Intellectually, you are fine with having more space to use for your own interests, but emotionally, you may find yourself sad over the loss of your role.   

The problem may be that you don’t have anywhere to go.  Your excuse of having to go to the business office is gone.  You are happy to have time with your spouse and grandchildren, but the change from being the Owner and Decider for a dynamic business to being a retiree is dramatic.  It’s like the mountaineer who just climbed Mt. Everest.  Two weeks later he was buying groceries for the family at the local supermarket, and he realized no one knew who he was or why he might be interesting to talk to.  He looks just like all the other retired people who are in the store, whether they are computer programmers, business owners, or accountants. 

Many successful exit plans (whether they are internal transfers or sales to third parties) will call for the owner to really think about what she/he wants to set as goals for this next phase of life.  The wisest owners will explore Next Phase Options with their spouse as they think through possibilities.  I’ve seen couples try out a few options while they are preparing for a sale or other transition. 

Some I know have started traveling and spending more than vacation time in possible retirement spots.  Others, having selected their desired space will build a house, buy a stable or take sailing lessons.  Some want to stay active in their existing community and transformed themselves into volunteers and board members for charitable organizations.  Some teach either adults, teens, or children as part of existing or new programs.  While exploring options can be enjoyable, it can also be very stressful until a path becomes clear.   It is a good idea to allow for some ideas to rise and see if there is real energy behind them.  Start small and see how options feel before you dive in completely.  Starting out before you have left the “mother ship” also helps create a pull for you to move to something positive.  No one wants to feel pushed out by the new owner! 

We encourage the business owners we work with to “try on” various new roles as a part of their process.  This can be a great opportunity for self-discovery, spending more time with family and friends, and personal growth.  If you’d like to discuss your company’s readiness to begin the journey to the summit, or the current health and salability of your company, feel free to give us a call or email.  We are also happy to discuss other ways to prepare your company for sale for now or for the future.   

You can reach me via email: [email protected] or on my cell phone a: 224-688-8838.  

We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential!

Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio