Gen X & Millennials: Will you go for it?

Jeff ChaffinUncategorized



Most of us are familiar with the ongoing impact that the Baby Boomer generation has had on every phase of our lives and, specific to this writing, the economic effect.  According to a recent article by Axial, a company who assists entrepreneurs in succeeding, “66% of all businesses with employees…are owned by baby boomers.”  In addition, several experts have estimated a value of TEN TRILLION dollars worth of businesses will change hands by 2025. Think about the enormity of that number!  An article published by Inc. Magazine also estimated 65% to 75% of small companies in the U.S. – some 10 million – will be likely to hang a “for sale” sign during the next 5-10 years. With these statistics in mind, it is clear that another Baby Boomer generational occurrence is already underway.

The big question for the Gen X and Millennial generations is: Will you go for it?  Are you ready, willing and able to take on the challenges of transferring ownership and taking lead positions at the companies your parents built?

As the numbers attest, the Baby Boomer generation has been the most risk taking and entrepreneurial group in our nation’s history.  In contrast, Gen Xers and Millennials rate themselves as superior in technology use and working smarter rather than harder.  Yet these generations are split on entrepreneurship: According to the U.S. Chamber Foundation-Review of Generation Research, Gen X is much more risk averse while Millennials are celebrating individualism through entrepreneurial pursuits.  With larger family-owned enterprises, both groups of upcoming generations would appear to be poised to assume the controls on leading the companies. For Gen X this is as long as systems are developed and strong to ease possible risk concerns, while Millennials are far more open to continuing the family legacy.

In our recent experience we have found a pronounced trend of children unwilling to take on the responsibilities that accompany running the family business.  Many business owners who are parents are surprised to learn this because one of their prime motives in building a business is to leave something substantial for their children.  One reason for children opting out of running the family business involves observing the commitment their parents have made to the business first hand, often resulting in the lack of balance between work and home. Another reason some have little desire in taking over the business is because they see the responsibilities that come with ownership.  Children often say they became involved in the family business just to support their parents and relieve some of their parent’s stress.

An important step to take for families who own businesses involves scheduling time as a family unit to explicitly review each individual’s goals for the future and to engage professional advisors to guide the process.  Working in a coordinated fashion, a team of professionals can provide an action plan to achieve the owner’s objectives while covering all of the facets of the transition plan.