As a business owner, your age has a big effect on your attitude towards your business and how you feel about one day getting out. Here’s what research has shown: 

Business owners between 25 and 47 years old 
Twenty- and thirty-something business owners grew up in an age where job security did not exist.  They watched as their parents got downsized or packaged off into early retirement, and that caused a somewhat jaded attitude towards the role of a business in society.  These business owners generally see their companies as means to an end and most expect to sell in the next five to ten years. Similar to their employed classmates who have a new job every three to five years; business owners in this age group often expect to start a few companies in their lifetime. 

Business owners between 48 and 66 years old 
Boomers (I dislike the term “baby boomer” as I think we did grow up)  came of age in a time where the social contract between company and employee was being re-defined. An employee agreed to be loyal to the company, and in return, the company agreed to provide a decent living and a pension for a few golden years.  By 2010, only 15% of retiring workers will have a pension that defined retirement in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. 

Many of the business owners we speak with in this generation think of their company as more than a profit center. They see their business as part of a community and, by extension, themselves as a community leader. To many boomers, the idea of selling their company feels like selling out their employees and their community, which is why so many CEO’s in their fifties and sixties are torn.  They know they need to sell to fund their retirement, but they agonize over where that will leave their loyal employees.

Business owners who are 67+ 
Older business owners grew up in a time when hobbies were impractical or discouraged. You went to work while your spouse tended to the kids  or joined you in the family business; you ate dinner, you watched the news and you went to bed.  With few hobbies and nothing other than work to define them, business owners in their late sixties, seventies and eighties feel lost without their business, which is why so many refuse to sell or experience depression after they do. 

Of course, there will always be exceptions to general rules of thumb but we have found that – more than your industry, nationality, marital status or educational background – your birth certificate defines your exit plan. 

Changing Lanes, strives to help business owners use their business as a means to an end while providing purpose and value to your day to day life.  This requires planning and analysis – boring to many – but necessary to achieve your dreams.  Start with where you are – get your Sellability Score  at Get My Score.