Tag Archives: Steve King

Why I’ll Never Retire

Ugh, baby boomers, retirement, selling the business … ouch. Strikes me like “lions, tigers, and bears,” in the Wizard of Oz. Scary.

I’m 61. It was my choice to change my job more than two years ago, so that now instead of managing my company with 45 employees I’m writing, speaking, blogging, and teaching. And I thank God that I had that choice. The company’s better off with a new management team, and I’m better off with a new job. But I worry about the rest of us. Retirement scares the hell out of me.

One of my closest friends retired two years ago. Now he’s bored out of his mind, looking for things to do, and not happy about it.

I’ve seen some successful retirements: it seems to work when they jump from one thing to another, something they like, something they’ve always wanted to do. Golf and fishing, or the equivalent, are rarely enough.

One variable that I’m sure matters is liking what you do. As my good friend now retired used to talk about it with relish, just 3-4 years ago, it always sounded great to him, but horrible to me. And, no surprise, he was tired of his work, but had nowhere else obvious to go. I was getting tired of the managing, but I did have somewhere I wanted, badly to go: the writing, speaking, etc. I still love the company I started, just not the day-to-day management of it. I liken my new job here to the concept of a safe harbor. It’s different, it’s easily separable from what I did for years, but it’s still the same company, same industry. And it also keeps me away from meddling with the new management, which (I’m pretty sure) is a relief to them.

Apparently I’m not the only one. I just read Steve King’s Greying of the Workforce post on Small Business Labs. Lots of grey-haired folks are staying on longer. And that’s because they want to, not because they have to.

And then there’s this, which turned up last week in Why Retirement is Bad For You, on Forbes.com

Studies show that men who retired from corporate jobs, donned their gold watches and lazed about at a resort lived measurably shorter lives than those who sought productive work (e.g., volunteering for organizations like SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives). In fact, plenty of retirees who traded productive work for sunshine and early-bird dinners dropped dead surprisingly soon after making the transition.

That seems like a variation on the same theme. Those older people in the work force are probably way better off for it, at least if they figure out how to be in jobs they like. Maybe that’s the best answer to an aging population?

Don’t Believe the Research Until You’ve Read Steve’s Post

Posting on his Small Business Labs blog, Steve King wrote: Don’t Quit Your Job Until You’ve Talked to a Small Business Failure. Amen. Everybody even thinking about starting a business should 1.) Read that post; and 2.) do what it says, talk to a small business failure.

Steve cites a couple posts he’s done recently on research showing small business owners feel relatively safe in their jobs. But then he adds:

Several people have asked me does this data mean that small business ownership is less risky than traditional employment?  The quick answer is yes, but only if your small businesses is successful. (emphasis is mine).

I love the irony: the polltakers ruled out failures by asking existing business – which, by definition, aren’t failures – about risk. Steve’s a professional researcher, so he quickly identifies the problem as survivor bias, which he says turns up often in research. He adds:

My favorite example of survivor bias is surveying existing customers to develop satisfaction ratings.  I was once asked to figure out why a company was losing so many customers despite having stellar customer satisfaction ratings.

It turned out they didn’t include customers that left prior to the annual customer satisfaction survey.  After all, they explained, they weren’t customers anymore.

So, as Steve suggests, if you want to explore the dark side of small business, talk to the losers instead of the winners.

(Photo credit: el lobo/shutterstock.com)

If You Are Raising Money, You Need a Business Plan

There was a nice piece in Small Biz Labs yesterday, in which Steve King notes that you should have a business plan whether or not you expect investors to read it. He offers this summary in that post:

In my opinion, the best way to prepare for the pitch process is to develop a business plan. Preparing a plan organizes the entrepreneur’s thinking, requires going through all aspects of the business and helps to identify important issues facing the company.

Agreed.