When it comes to planning your exit strategy from your business, age plays a significant role in shaping your perspective and emotions. Different generations approach their businesses with distinct attitudes, influenced by their experiences and societal norms. Understanding how your age impacts your exit plan can help you navigate this critical phase of entrepreneurship more effectively. In this article, we explore the relationship between age and exit planning, shedding light on the diverse perspectives of business owners across different generations.
Owners Aged 25 to 46:
Ambitious Ventures Growing up in an era of job insecurity, business owners in their twenties and thirties perceive their companies as a means to an end. Having witnessed their parents’ experiences of downsizing and early retirement, they approach entrepreneurship with a pragmatic mindset. Typically, these owners view their businesses as stepping stones towards their ultimate goals and often expect to sell within the next 5 to 10 years. Similar to their peers in traditional employment, they anticipate launching multiple ventures throughout their lifetime.
Aged 47 to 65:
Community-Driven Entrepreneurs The baby boomer generation values the social contract between a company and its employees, based on loyalty and mutual support. Business owners in this age range often consider their companies as more than mere profit centers. They perceive their businesses as integral parts of their communities and themselves as community leaders. For many boomers, selling their businesses can feel like betraying their employees and community. While they recognize the need to sell for retirement funds, they grapple with the implications it may have on those who rely on their business.
The Challenge of Letting Go Older business owners, who grew up in an era where work took precedence over hobbies and personal pursuits, face unique challenges in letting go of their businesses. With work being the primary defining aspect of their lives, the idea of selling can be deeply unsettling. Many owners in their late sixties, seventies, and eighties refuse to sell or experience post-sale depression, as they struggle to find a sense of purpose and identity outside of their businesses. Hobbies and other activities were often discouraged during their formative years, leaving them feeling lost without their business.
While it is important to acknowledge that individual experiences may differ, age undeniably shapes our attitudes and perspectives towards exit planning. The generational factors outlined above provide insights into the diverse mindsets of business owners as they consider selling their businesses. Recognizing the influence of age on your exit plan empowers you to navigate the emotional complexities and make informed decisions aligned with your personal goals and aspirations. By understanding how your age impacts your mindset, you can develop an exit strategy that takes into account both your financial objectives and emotional well-being.