3 tips to avoid regret

3 Tips to Avoid Regret When You Exit Your Business

What causes you to feel regret?

Before you learn how to avoid regret, you have to know what causes it.

Have you ever been really excited to take a vacation, and it’s the kind of vacation where you spend hours upon hours looking for the best things to do, the best places to eat, places to stay, and you’re really excited about it? Then, once the day comes, you get there and you just feel a little bit disappointed? Well, the same thing happens to too many business owners. They exit their business and they have a smooth transition out, only to be left wondering… Did I make the right decision?

I want to start today’s post by asking you a question: What do you plan to do once you exit your business? 

Grab a pen and paper or your favorite note taking device and take a moment. Give yourself permission to think sincerely about my question. Then, write down all the things you want to do or accomplish once you’re out of your business. Don’t worry, if it feels tough to do, you aren’t alone. It will be worth it though. I promise.

Now that you’ve taken a few minutes to write down the things that you want to do once you exit your business, let me ask you a follow-up question: Do you know how you’re going to do those things? 

What I don’t want to have happen to you is that you exit your business only to wake up the next day with a sense of regret. After having talked with countless business owners, I’ve found that, typically, the regret you experience comes from one of three things: you’re either bored, you don’t have a sense of purpose, or you don’t have people to talk to. So, now that we know the common causes of regret, let’s talk about how you can address each one of them.

Don't Get BoredDon’t get bored.

First off, let’s address the boredom. Right now, you’re never bored. You always have something to work on. There’s never a moment when your business isn’t demanding something from you. Yet, you love it. It keeps you going. Of course it drains you of life some days, but you wouldn’t trade it. Or maybe that’s how you’ve always felt up until now. 

When you finally decide it’s time to start thinking about your next stage of life, one of the first things I would encourage you to do is to think about what you enjoy. Start spending time on some of the hobbies that maybe you have given up in the past. Start exploring and broadening your horizons. Maybe you wanted to play a musical instrument, or you wanted to take up art or pick up a sport like rowing. Whatever you think you may be interested in or think you want to spend your time doing once you’re out of your business, start trying those things out now.

I’ve heard so many owners say they want to golf every week or fish every day. When it comes down to it, most of them are tired of the activity after a few weeks. Keep life interesting. Give yourself more opportunities to broaden your horizons and really try to experience the things you’re interested in now so that you’ll have a sense of what you can do to fill the time once you’ve made your exit. Who knows, you may stumble into an idea for another business!

Sense of PurposeFind a sense of purpose.

Next, let’s talk about finding your sense of purpose after you exit. As a business owner, your purpose is, a lot of times, tied to your clients or customers. You want to do everything that you can to provide a service or a product to make their lives better. And in the process, you’re taking care of your employees, giving them a job, and helping them take care of their families. It’s not uncommon for a huge amount of your purpose to be tied to your business. 

When your business is no longer there, who are you going to be? How will you answer when someone asks you, “what do you do?” One of the ways that many owners have identified as a key component for finding a sense of purpose is to volunteer. Find an organization that you’re passionate about. Maybe you’re able to use the skills you learned from your business, or you may use some of the skills you don’t often get a chance to use in your business.

Another common avenue is to look for additional business opportunities. Maybe you become a consultant or you sit on a board of directors. You might not have to be the person who’s in charge to find your purpose. It could be that just being able to add value to another organization is enough to give you a great sense of fulfillment.

Social FriendsCultivate your social network

The last thing we need to address is having a network of people to socialize with. As the owner, you’re surrounded by employees, you’re surrounded by vendors, and business partners–people that you work with on an ongoing basis. It’s really easy to develop relationships with those people because they play such key roles in your success. However, once you’ve left your business, those people are still going to be working. They’re still going to have things that are going on in their lives and that they’re having to commit their time to.

When you exit, you won’t have those same commitments. Think about that. If most of your relationships are with the people you work with and they are still working, who are you going to spend time with? As you start to prepare for your exit, I’d encourage you to start cultivating some of the relationships you have with people outside of your business so you have people that you can relate to once you exit. 

Final thoughts and tips for creating a personal plan

Hopefully, you are starting to see the importance of finding your identity outside of your business. You’re so much more than an owner and it’s time to start exploring your possibilities. Don’t wait until you are ready to exit to start the process. Be intentional with your time today. Give yourself a chance to test-drive the things that interest you. You deserve a regret-free exit, and the way you get it is by having a personal plan.

Scroll to Top