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Brett Davidson: start a new phase for your firm in your 50s

Brett Davidson: start a new phase for your firm in your 50s

Are you in your 50s or 60s and thinking of selling your business? It seems everyone wants you to consider your exit plan. But I will offer a different point of view.

What if you made a decision to ‘go again’? By this, I mean setting yourself a new, big, audacious goal: a vision for what your business will look like in 20 years’ time. Think of the effect it can have on society or your local community.

Ridiculous? Not at all. Let me explain why.

With overall life expectancy increasing, you could live to 100 years of age (or more). If you have important things to move onto in this next phase of your life, sell up, and go ahead and do them. You are excused from what I am about to say.

But many people reading this article may not have those big, important things to move onto next. So the question becomes how to stay engaged, learning, growing and being fulfilled in the second half of your life. Running a business is an excellent way to keep growing and learning.

When you do start looking at potential buyers for your business, things can get complicated. Will you be happy selling out to a consolidator or large corporate entity that is unlikely to maintain the client-focused ethos you have built your reputation on?

I know many business owners who have investigated the selling option, but then changed tack and started getting serious about creating internal succession options in their business. They just did not like what they were seeing in the potential buyers.

Three phases

Although you might set a 20-year vision for the next phase of the business, you can step off at any point on that journey. Maybe at five, seven or 12 years.

The next 20 years of your working life do not necessarily have to look the way the past 20 years did. You do not have to keep working really hard and grinding away. That is not an attractive option.

Broadly speaking, there are three major phases in your career. The first is getting started. You are young, full of energy and learning lots. It is a very exciting time as you discover your path.

The second is achieving mastery. You have learned your craft and can do it blindfolded. That does not mean you are no longer learning. Rather, you are adding small incremental pieces to your well-formed puzzle.

In the third phase you can pass on your knowledge. Now you get to share your experience with the next generation, who are heading for mastery. Coaching and mentoring others becomes the main focus of your work. If you open yourself up to it, this phase can be the most exciting time of your career. It is not until you start teaching what you have learned that you realise how much you actually know. It is the perfect exclamation point on your career. 

Finish on a high

If you are in your 50s or 60s you might only just be entering the third phase, without realising it yet. If that is the case, there are a few questions to consider. How could you continue on from this place in your career? What else do you need to learn to do that? How do you keep it exciting and fun, rather than more grind and hard work? How can you finish your career on a high, not a low?

Can you feel your mojo slowly coming back when you think about these questions?

Even merely contemplating ‘going again’ in this final phase of your career starts to relight that fire in your soul. It brings back a sense of real purpose. After all your hard work, you deserve to go out with a bang, not a whimper. 

Brett Davidson of is director at FP Advance.

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