How tied to the business is your identity? | Compass Point Skip to main content


Business owners picture this…you are walking through a crowd of unfamiliar faces, people you’ve never met before. Someone stops you. How will you introduce yourself?  If you begin with your name and the company you own, then we have a lot of work to do.

So much of our personal value can be derived from our work. But what happens when you are no longer the owner, no longer the CEO? Or you have sold the business and have no ties to it anymore? No urgent emails. No meeting-packed calendar. No longer does your cell phone vibrate 24/7. Now what?

When it feels like your ENTIRE identity is wrapped up in the business, we need to talk about your Next Chapter.

Business owners work with coaches like myself to help illustrate and communicate why the business exists. Developing this “Core Purpose” for the business is critical to its long term success.  But developing a personal Next Chapter plan requires owners to shift focus from the business to themselves. Not easy, yet absolutely necessary.

Some may have thought about it.

Some have even talked about it.

Rarely, if ever, is there a plan in place.

Have you actively thought or discussed with others (spouse, family, friends) what will get you out of bed in the morning once you step away from the business?

Why would someone even need a Next Chapter plan?  Well, just look at two statistics from multiple studies:

●  Retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40 percent.

●      75% of owners regret selling their business after just ONE year.

So where do you start?

Read. A great place to start is the book How to Retire Happy, Wild, & Free by Ernie Zelinski. We use this at Compass Point with owners and CEOs looking to transition out of the business. The key to achieving a satisfying next chapter involves more than “do I have enough money to retire?”

Reflect. Whether you are thinking about transitioning in one year,  five years, ten years….I would start by asking yourself these two questions: How do I want others to remember me? What legacy would I like to leave?

Reimagine. Where will you spend your time when you’re no longer answering 100+ business emails a day, meeting with clients, brainstorming with your team, or presenting to your board?

How will you move from success to significance?

I’ll leave you with one last thought. When we graduate high school or college, it marks the end of a particular journey in our personal growth. Yet, the act of celebrating this benchmark is called commencement, because as one chapter closes, a new one begins. THAT is how every owner should feel about their Next Chapter – and with the proper planning you can.

It is a lot to think about. Don’t do it alone. If you would like to delve deeper into writing your next chapter, schedule a 30-minute session with me free of charge.

Cheryl Doll profile picture
Cheryl Doll

Cheryl has spent over 20 years in higher education, wearing many different hats, including faculty development, teaching, and strategic planning. Over the last five years, she developed her passion in helping community colleges create strategic goals and building future leaders within the academy. She then saw a need for this type of work outside of higher education, specifically in family businesses, the businesses that support much of the economy in and around the Lehigh Valley.

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