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Commentary: The Business

Larry and Nelda Read: Future Plans

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Is your business running your life? larry and nelda read offer one solution.

RECENTLY AT HEARTS On Fire Univer-sity my wife, Nelda, and I were repeatedly asked, why at age 52 and 54 we are starting the process of transitioning our ownership, to a new team of owners.  

What we are doing seemed almost unthinkable to our peers.  

The retail jewelry business has been very good to Nelda and me. While we are second-generation jewelers, we see ourselves more as first-generation businesspeople in the jewelry business. There is a tremendous difference, as our identity is separate from our business. We have enjoyed the jewelry business, but we enjoy other activities besides working in the store.  

What really struck us at this conference was that we did not meet any other owners who were planning what they were going to do next with their lives, regardless of their age.  

It dawned on us that most of the people we know have no idea of when or how to let go of their business in a way that improves their quality of life.  

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Don’t get me wrong, for some owners there is nothing more enjoyable than going to work each day. But we sensed many owners felt somewhat trapped in their business. Sadly, most will simply die richer, not happier, if they don’t do something to change.  
First, decide how much is enough money for you to live the rest of your life doing things you enjoy other than work. A successful transition will generate much of the income you need. 

Next, you have to identify the people you are willing to put in charge of your business.  

Third, you have to train them in the core principles that have made your business successful, and they must prove they are capable of running the business before they get a piece of the ownership. 

Most important, at some point you have to launch them, stand back, and get out of the way. Go do the things you have always wanted to do and let them run the business. You can be there as a consultant if they need advice but, remember, they will have their own style. The important thing is the business remains profitable and they are sending you a check every month. 

Only time will tell if Nelda and I have met all these criteria but early returns show we have a great team of people, including our three daughters, who are not just satisfied maintaining our business but are set on taking it higher than we ever dreamed. 

A successful transition requires smart planning and good advice from your legal and accounting team, but you have to make it happen. It’s your business, make it work for you.  

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? LARRY & NELDA READ 
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