Relevance: The Root of Hesitation

December 23, 2021Insights

You’ve conquered it all, from establishing a career to starting, running, and building a business. You’re a board member, certificate holder, award winner, and respected leader.

You’ve taken care of everyone around you—your employees, your customers, your suppliers, and most importantly, your family. Aside from being a successful entrepreneur, you’re a spouse, parent…perhaps also a grandparent.

But—while checking all the boxes that anyone could ask for in life, you still feel a pit in your stomach when you think about exiting your business and, dare we say, retiring. We can chalk it up to all sorts of emotions, but it’s really one word at play and perceived to be in peril: relevance.


Relevance in Your Business

Even if you’re a hands-off leader, you’re still relevant in every single decision made by every single person, every single day, because you’re the owner. You know your customers, employees, and leadership team look to you when they have a question, concern, or idea. When you sell or pass down your business, you’ll eventually no longer be involved in it. By design, the exit removes your relevance to the day-to-day operations of the business. Still, it can be a tough transition to imagine and an even tougher one to make.


Relevance in Your Relationships

For so many years, your business has been the centerpiece of your identity. In the same way that sending your kids off to college completely changes your lifestyle, so does exiting your business. Both require you to reinvent yourself. Even so, recognize that everything you value and stand for can remain the same, just with a different title. You don’t need to be a business owner to be confident, compassionate, reliable, driven, and dedicated.


Relevance in Your Routine

Family comes first, of course, but your days generally revolve around work. Part of the reason you’re so successful is that you have your routine down to a T. You know the ebbs and flows of your business and how to manage your time accordingly. You have the go-to coffee shop that you visit at the same time every day. Maybe a favorite lunch spot as well. If you travel frequently for work, you’ve mastered that, too. Your ability to get work done makes you feel useful and valuable in your business and relationships alike.


Relevance in Your Life

A simplistic existence just doesn’t appeal to you. The word, “retirement,” alone makes you fear your mortality. You want to stay active. You hope to stay healthy. You need to be relevant.

This one-word epiphany comes directly from a conversation with one of our clients. Having recently exited and retired, he said:

“Everything is great, but I don’t feel relevant.”

The man’s statement uprooted everything we thought we knew about business owners’ hesitance to exit. Control. Fear. Anxiety. Uncertainty. They’re certainly real emotions, but maybe not the real reason you might be struggling to embrace a new chapter. They’re symptoms of questioning your relevance.

We can help you figure out how to exit. In some ways, that’s the easy part. The big question is, how will you stay relevant after the exit? Let the soul searching begin.


By John Ovrom, President & CEO, Exit Consulting Group