With apologies to the younger members of The Edge, this post is for those of a certain age, let’s say 55 and up.
Then again, even the youngest member may want to spend a few minutes looking over the shoulder of those who are starting to wonder, “What comes next?” How do they ever transition away from, or out of, the full-time practice of running a design practice?
Assuming they have overhead, leases, projects that may last months or years, employees, loans…how does one know when…and how…to scale back? What if at age 60 or 65 or 70…a principal wants to:
- Transition to a boutique practice, cherry-picking only the best projects
- Travel more
- Work remotely
- Not work at all!
Since fixed overhead is often added in big chunks (what I refer to as the “moving breakeven point problem”) we must accept it is also shed in chunks, but how does one balance the roller coaster of sales (unpredictable sales) with an overhead designed to result in a new business model. Or no model at all.
The Psychology of “Getting Out”
There is also the psychology of transitioning out of one’s lifetime pursuit, and that will probably be more difficult than you think. I’ve worked with business owners in the past (including interior designers) to make this transition and have found that making sure they are mentally prepared for the changes is often more important than getting the numbers right.
The worst approach, of course, is the head-in-sand approach. Alice taught us that if we don’t know where we’re going, any road will do. But that attitude over the last 5-10 years of full-time practice will cause misery and cost you money. You need a plan and that plan will take some time to develop.
The best way to do it is to take it slow, but make small progress each and every month. Test ideas and listen to a few others who are on your same path. Get some feedback from me as to the financial and emotional implications you will be facing.
That’s why I’m considering leading a very small “Transitions Discussion Group” starting October 18. This group was actually requested by two designers who have built very successful practices, but don’t know how to wind down.
You can’t register yet but if you’d like to learn more, just visit the page I’ve created HERE. And if you think you might be a good fit, just send me an email and I’ll let you know the status of the group.