I want to die a business owner

Our hometown, Lafayette, Indiana, closed some downtown streets for restaurants to offer more outdoor seating this weekend. Our family decided to go out for a nice Sunday evening dinner. Walking along we saw a couple of businesses on Main Street that caught my eye.

inquire within

It’s not too often that you see an actual for-sale sign on a business. I wish more owners were that straightforward with their intentions to sell. I get why they aren’t though.

time to retire

A few steps away from the for-sale sign, we saw this retirement sign. Sometimes people ask who my competition is for the businesses that we buy. There certainly are other competing buyers. But the main competition is the business owner themselves retiring and just shutting things down. Again, I appreciate the straightforwardness of this sign. Many owners retire in place in the business while both become shadows of their former selves.

But can a business owner actually retire? I think the answer is no. They can sell the business and stop being a business owner. They can let it die around them and also stop being a business owner. In my experience, being an owner is too much tied to who someone is and how they think about life to just stop doing it one day. The business owners that I’ve seen attempt retirement are really just creating a proxy for something that they see their regular-job-working peers doing.

So if a business owner can’t retire, then what?

I want to be a business owner until the day I die. Being a business owner until the day I die doesn’t mean I’ll be doing the exact same thing in my 60s or 80s (or however many years the good Lord gives me) that I am today in my 40s. But I hope to still be putting my time and energies towards becoming a better business owner.

Daryl and I are building Little Engine Ventures in large part to allow us to die as business owners. If it is what we want, then we figured it would be what a lot of other business owners want as well. I’m going to need some business partners that will come after me well into the future to allow me to continue to be a business owner when I’m 80. We’re attempting to be those business partners to those men and women who will have us today.

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