Stop and think for a moment how many of your fellow baby boomers own their own businesses. They are designers, bakers, realtors, restauranteurs, farmers, nursery operators, landscapers, pet groomers, childcare operators, vintners, photographers, B&B owners, interior designers, and an almost endless list of various retail store operators.
Now stop and think for a moment about what happens to these businesses when the baby boomer retires. Is there a succession plan? Is there a family member in the wings ready to take over? Is there enough potential to offer the business for sale?
Starting to get the picture? Baby boomers account for about 40 percent of all small businesses. Now factor in the 10,000 boomers who are retiring EVERY DAY. There is about to be a seismic shift in the future of small business in this country.
Millennials and Gen Zers are skewing more to the tech sector when it comes to career choices, so what happens to these boomer businesses, which incidentally are profitable for the most part? We’re talking about 2.3 million businesses that employ around 25 million people. The supply of potential businesses is about to outstrip the demand for ownership.
There’s an unparalleled transfer of wealth happening now, as the boomer generation leaves its wealth in the form of inheritance. But what happens to the actual businesses that built that wealth? Boomers may wish to hand off the business to a family member, but if no one wants it, it either can be sold if there’s a buyer or it withers on the vine.
So what? So there may be fewer professionals, trades people and crafts people to cater to our needs. Fewer plumbers to fix your water heater, fewer one-off restaurants that feature unique local entrepreneurs, and overall fewer options other than national chain stores and services. This may be one of those “you won’t know how much you miss us until we’re gone” situations. And there’s nothing on the horizon that would have the potential to change the trajectory of this trend.
The movement to support your local small business is more important than ever in our current economic climate. We just need to realize that many baby boomers will be the last small business owners, because operating a small business has gone out of style. RIP.
Jay Harrison is a writer and creative consultant for DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.