Imagine a typical American lifespan as a hockey match. There are coaches, referees, teammates, and moments of victory, defeat and exhaustion. At the end of a hard-fought second period—or, in this metaphor, at the end of a professional career—there is a pause and an unnerving realization that the game is in its final period.

Now, as the horn announces the start of the third period, imagine that no one returns to the ice. The clock counts down, the action ceases and the puck sits alone at center ice. Unfortunately, this scenario is played out in the “third period” for far too many business owners.

In an effort to ensure the continuity of their businesses, construction company owners must discuss estate planning and succession planning—topics that can cause the energy in a room to evaporate. Nobody likes to talk about planning for the end of a career, or the end of a life. But given the fact 10,000 individuals will turn 65 every day this year, and most of them will live to 90, how about considering 65 as the entry point to the transformational platform of a company’s achievement?

When preparing a business and its employees for the transition to new ownership, consider the future in a positive light and leave the company in a spot in which it can continue to prosper.

Moving Forward With the Company’s Next Phase

Failing to plan for the transition to new ownership can leave the new owner—perhaps a relative or valued employee—unprepared to promote growth in the business and cause the company to lose its value and employees to lose financial stability.

As such, business owners should keep an eye on the future at every stage, including the transition to new ownership. Here’s how:

  • Build a blueprint for a self-managed company. At the outset of the planning process, provide the successor with well-organized business records (e.g., equipment maintenance history), and invest time to create detailed outlines of company processes and existing business partnerships. Work with company leaders to clarify new roles, and be prepared to provide training to these individuals in the months prior to finalizing the transition. Pass on key knowledge to whoever will be filling the owner’s shoes, and give the company the chance to operate without the boss even while he or she is still present to provide support and leadership.
  • Establish a timeline. Most would consider retiring from work as an objective at age 65; however, this certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, and a recent Wall Street Journal article reported that working past age 65 may lead to a longer life. Understanding which point in time is best for the business, for the owner and for the successor can help the transition run smoothly on both professional and personal fronts. 
  • Involve business advisors in the process. Introduce the company’s successor to the firm’s board of directors, CPA, attorney, insurance representatives and industry contacts, and position the new leader to guide the owner through the transition process.
Moving Forward With Your Third Period
As the hockey metaphor suggests, it can be helpful to look at life as three periods: youth, the family and professional
years, and the years of a person’s “final expression.” In 2016, no one reaching the age of 65 believes that the road to life and the rewarding experiences of being engaged in business or community activities must end.

In his book Transformational Relationships, author and entrepreneur Tom Klobucher asserts that you can propel yourself to whatever you want to achieve in the third period of your life. In his case, Klobucher says his company ended up rewriting its core values, throwing its organizational chart out the window and hashing out some bold goals to be achieved within one, three, five, seven and 10 years.

He writes: “An important facet of transformation is remaining youthful in our way of thinking about and driving our business. Particularly in this time of constant change, we see new opportunities developing daily, while existing business models run the risk of becoming irrelevant surprisingly fast. This is why maintaining a sustained focus on the future—as opposed to a potentially dangerous reliance on the past—is so important.”

When planning for the company’s transition, consider what transformation will take place in your personal life. Seek out projects at which you excel, and measure productivity not by the number of hours worked, but rather by the number of hours worked on your unique passions.

List the 10 things you will do in the third period of your life, and convert that list to an immediate action plan. Here are some ideas:
  • consulting at $500 an hour, but for only 60 hours a month;
  • offering financial planning advice to millennials at your company for one hour every other day; or
  • consider becoming the senior learning coordinator for your company for two hours every other Friday.
As you prepare to pass your business off to a new leader, remember that you are embarking on a rewarding new journey.


David Seitter is a partner in the Kansas City, Mo., office of Spencer Fane. For more information, email dseitter@spencerfane.com.