Retirement at 65 is ridiculous. When I was 65, I still had pimples.
-- George Burns
I recently began working with a very successful business owner who had come to me for help drawing up a succession plan. He was 66 and had been at the helm for more than 35 years. He planned to hand the company over to his daughter when the time came for him to retire.
During a deep discussion about when he planned to step completely out, I asked him what he was going to do when he retired. His response was that he was going to keep on working as "I have no other interests."
He talked at some length about how devoted he was to his business. All his time went to running it, and everything else was secondary. This instantly concerned me. I just knew we were going to have some big problems. Without any other interests, he just would not be able to let go, and I could see stepping back was going to be a struggle for him.
Dedication is admirable, but this absolute commitment to the business was really going to inhibit our ability to implement any kind of succession plan. His daughter would need some time in sole command to get the hang of running things. If he could not step back to allow her that opportunity, it would make the transition much tougher.
Entrepreneurs and man
agers know how important planning is. Jim Moran said, "The future belongs to those who plan for it." I would add that when you do not plan, your choices become fewer and fewer.
When talking about retirement, you need to plan for so many things, from how your financial assets will be allocated to what you want to do to keep busy. There is no question in my mind that lack of adequate planning is the reason so many businesses struggle and sometimes fail after being handed off to the next generation.
While traveling about a month ago, we stopped in to see The Villages near Ocala. With golf courses, tennis courts, bicycle trails and much more, it is clear this is a retirement community designed for people who want to keep living an active lifestyle among others who share similar interests. It was a great setup, just not for us. We just love living in our cities.
After you have retired is not the time to start looking for things that interest you. This should be part of your retirement planning, which should begin at least 20 years before the date you want to retire.
I have found that one of the best ways to move towards retirement is to work half time for a few years as a lead-in. When I retired from FSU the first time, I was lucky enough to have them hire me back to work half time. I used the next three years to think about and plan what I wanted to do when I retired permanently so I was ready when the time came.
I am really enjoying being retired now. I get to do so many neat things I would have never have had the opportunity to do when I was working. For example, I am leaving shortly to spend a week hiking the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Because I took time to plan out my retirement, I feel like there are so many things to do, and every day is a challenge.
Now go out and make sure you have a realistic retirement plan in place. Remember to include activities in that plan so you can spend your retirement doing things you really enjoy.
Jerry Osteryoung, a consultant to businesses, is the Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.