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Not Quite Ready to Retire? Consider These 3 Options

You’ll find your transition smoother and easier on you and whoever comes next.




A JEWELRY STORE OWNER called me when he turned 70 and said he needed some succession planning advice. His daughter-in-law and son had worked in the business for well over a decade, and he said he wanted to retire when he turned 80. I told him, “You don’t want to wait until you’re 80, and neither will your son or daughter-in-law.”

Retiring from a business you have owned, grown, and nurtured for decades can be challenging. Many don’t want to “let go” because they feel the younger generation isn’t ready to take over, doesn’t want to learn from their experience, or wants to change everything when “everything’s running just fine.” The trouble is, a business can always be improved, and the next generation may well have new ideas, technology and approaches to doing things that can add tremendous value to the future of the business.

Retirees are also troubled by their own mixed emotions of leaving the business. It isn’t easy to walk away from a prestigious position as a business owner in the community, so the feelings of “Who am I if I’m no longer important around here?” is a conundrum for many jewelers. Yet there are many options to consider.


1. Semi-retire. I’m not a big proponent of going “cold turkey,” so why not start stepping away slowly and deliberately, turning more and more over to the next generation? Younger family members will never grow when you are second-guessing their decisions or creating conflict without even realizing you’re doing it. Start taking a week or two off at a time and do the traveling you have always wanted to do. Or go from five-or-six-day work weeks down to three or four. You’ll be amazed how good that feels once you get used to it. You’ll be equally amazed at how the maturity and talent of your successor(s) will blossom.

2. Become a private jeweler. Some retirees still love the jewelry business but can’t stand the daily grind, dealing with numerous employee problems, or contending with disgruntled customers. It’s interesting how, as we get older, we tend to slow down, lack the patience for things we once had, and no longer want to deal with the minutia we used to handle seamlessly. Assuming you have no successor, downsizing from a retail store to a well-appointed upstairs office as a by-appointment-only private jeweler could be the perfect scenario.

3. Exit without exiting. If you have developed good leadership and management within your store, sometimes you can leave the store in those good hands while retaining ownership of it. As with succession planning, this takes focused attention and often years of development to achieve. It also takes your deliberate intention to reduce your involvement and to make yourself less and less instrumental to the business, especially when it comes to management decision-making, employee oversight and customer sales.

Perhaps the best advice I can give you is to consult with someone you trust to help you decide on a best course of action for you specifically. A trusted advisor will get to know you well and will help you consider options that are best for you.



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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