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Why Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs Are Not Retiring

Senior businessman reading a tablet for “Why Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs Are Not Retiring” article

With a growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement age, it is only natural to believe that an influx of small businesses would be available for sale. While some small business owners are letting go, others have decided to hold on. According to Babson College’s State of Small Business in 2016 study published recently in Small Business Labs, 51 percent of the small business owners in the United States are over the age of 50.1

Why the Delay?

There are many reasons baby boomer business owners are holding out on selling:

  • Younger family members have no interest in taking over the family business
  • Not enough revenue to sell the business for the right amount
  • Have yet to reach goals they set for the company
  • Unsure if they truly want to retire at the present time
  • Lack of an exit planning strategy

Along with the above, there is one other reason worth noting: older entrepreneurs are achieving more success than ever before.

As noted in a recent blog post, some of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time didn’t hit it big until they reached their 50s. These people include:

  • Leo Goodwin, age 50, Geico founder
  • Gordon Bowker, age 51, Starbucks founder
  • Arianna Huffington, age 54, The Huffington Post founder
  • Charles Flint, age 61, IBM founder
  • Harland David Sanders, age 62, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder

Some baby boomers don’t want to hang up their work boots just yet, as they believe their best days are still ahead of them.

There are baby boomers looking to cash in their business and sail into the sunset. There are also those who are hanging onto their business, realizing that now is not the best time to sell. How do you see the numbers shaking out over the next three to five years?

Learn what’s right for your business

Visit SunTrust’s Small Business Best Practices Guide for a straightforward checklist of best practices in six important areas of financial management, including transitioning your business. 

1 “The State of Small Business in America 2016,” June 7, 2016, Babson College


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