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Get the Hell Out of the Hourglass – Part 11

Posted by Amy Lynch on February 9, 2023

I bought the whole kit and caboodle for a song. 

We were competitors and friends, but I bought the entire MacMillan Bros. Painting Company.* They were a third generation painting business and had been around for over 100 years! The owners were two brothers; as they approached their 70s, their business declined. They had no plan for succession, so I bought it at a bargain price. The brothers were financially set, but the business and all the people that were part of it were gone. Those two were both in the hourglass their entire careers! They did have life balance, but they had stopped growing years ago and had no succession plan. There was absolutely no one to run the business, so the only value it had was what I was offering them. Sad.

This was not lost on me, so I started thinking about when I would exit Nolan Painting.

“There are two acceptable endings to a business ownership: franchise it or sell it.”1  I’ll never forget reading that in Michael E. Gerber’s book. I took it to heart and have been thinking about the succession of leadership in my company ever since.

Think About Succession Now. 

You shouldn’t get into a business you can’t get out of.2 It’s never too early to think about your exit strategy! A business simply cannot survive if the owner is stuck in the hourglass and then decides to get out of it with no plan!

I have a plan for Nolan Painting. I am very confident that our success and growth were never about me, so replace me with someone better, I say. This worked for me in sales first, then in operations, and finally in finance. I can be replaced, but I do need to set up my succession for success. 

My skill set will need to be replaced. So it’s a good idea to have an exit plan (not just for your business, but also for your life). I’ve been wrapped up in it for what seems like forever. I reckon that I have an identity-role crisis coming my way, so this idea of planning for succession is a way for me to remove myself from the business, separate my mindset, and then begin planning my next passion – which is essential! You cannot leave a thriving business and stay healthy in your mind unless you have thought about what you will do when you go.

It is hard to think about leaving Nolan Painting! I have poured so much time and energy into building this business over years and years and years – it has affected many people’s lives. Not just my own life but my family, my employees, their families, and the community. How can I not devote passion and energy to leaving it? l know that nothing lasts forever, but this is my life’s work, and it’s tough to walk away from it. At the very least, I’d like to exit well – thoughtfully and carefully. 

No matter your age or the age of your company, I recommend you start thinking about it, too.

See you Monday. Build muscle.

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