At some point, you’re going to have some tough decisions to make about your future. We’re not invincible and nobody lives forever. It’s better to have a plan in your 30s or 40s than to be blindsided and scrambling at 65.
You will have to sell or pass on your business someday. You will reach that traditional retirement age. It’s much better to know now what you’re going to do then. Many entrepreneurs don’t like to think about that, but it’s a necessary evil.
The Three Numbers
There are three key figures you absolutely need to live by: 65, 95 and 4.
- 65: The common retirement age
- 95: It's over 50% that if you are healthy at age 65, either you or your spouse will live to see 95
- 4: If you take out more than 4 percent per year from your retirement account, chances are you will run out of money before you reach 95
You need to be prepared for the day when you are not the head of your business. It’s scary to think about, but it will happen someday. It’s never too early to plan ahead. The way you’re saving for sufficiency, surplus and superfluous lifestyles needs to have those three figures in mind.
The earlier you start saving for the future, the better. If you’re in your 30s and reading this, you’re still at the age where you can apply some more elbow grease and produce more by yourself. Even if you’re in your 40s, you are still ahead of many entrepreneurs when it comes to future-forward financial thinking. So many people now are focused on the short-term benefits that coming with selling the business that the long-term goals get delayed.
Whatever age you are now, you need to have a plan that will start paying dividends when you turn 65 and want to slow down a bit, enjoying the fruits of your labor.
The Rise of “Entire-ment”
Maybe the R-word is scary for you right now. The finish line is something entrepreneurs hate to think about, as it feels like you’re being pushed aside or put out to pasture.
If you’re not ready to even think about your future without the company, that’s fine. That’s why I prefer the term “Entirement.” You’re not stepping away from the company completely at 65, especially with all of the wisdom you’ve gathered from a lifetime in the business.
If you’ve dedicated decades of your life to building your business (and building toward your personal financial independence), the absolute last thing you want to do is let go of the reins. That’s perfectly understandable.
We tend to think that “retirement,” is the act of letting someone else control your company and your money. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Here’s how you can think of what happens when you reach the mythical age: you’re past the point where you’re solely doing this for money. You’re now in the business because you love what you’re doing and you have a wealth of knowledge and experience.
At this age, you can now focus on what you enjoy best about your business and turn some of the nitty-gritty and unsavory aspects over to trusted colleagues. This way, you’re not being pushed out, but rather focusing on your specialty. You can keep building your business out of enjoyment, knowing that you’ve already satisfied your financial needs for the future.
Through entirement, you have a distinct advantage -- the ability to guide your business, using your decades of experience and knowledge -- without the fear of losing your nest egg.
The main point stands, though, that those days will come. Whether that day means selling the business in five years and building something new and exciting, or building your empire over the course of the next couple decades, you need to have an exit plan.
Operating without a long-term plan could put you back at square one at just the time you need financial independence the most.