“Don’t worry about avoiding temptation” said Sir Winston Churchill “As you grow older it will avoid you”.
In the world of commerce however the so-called baby boomer generation are increasingly looking out for tempting opportunities to buy a business.
Of those using the website BusinessesForSale.com to look for businesses to acquire, more than one in four (27%)in a recent survey are aged 55 and over, while the average age of a business buyer is 44.
With the economy the way it is, these people increasingly see buying a business with a proven track record as a more prudent investment than pension funds, shares or building society deposits.
Purchasing an existing business is also a safer investment than starting one yourself: 80% of start-ups fail to last five years.
And the over- fifties are facing a real struggle to get back into regular employment: 44% of those unemployed at that age have been out of work for more than twelve months.
The Direct Selling Association, the trade body which represents the interests of the UK’s major direct selling companies has observed a 29% increase in recruits aged over 50 in the past year.
Baby boomers are also cash and asset rich; the wealth gap between the young and older generations remains as wide as it has ever been.
The survey notes that the average budget of prospective business buyers below 45 years of age is just over half that of those aged over 45: £144,000 against £260,000.
Research from Friends Provident suggests that the over- 50s hold some 80% of the nation’s wealth.
However, there’s another more prosaic explanation for the prominence of over 55s in the business-for-sale market: there are simply more of them.
As the UK heads towards a total population of 70m (larger than Germany’s), we’re an ageing population.
According to the Office of National Statistics, 40% of the UK population will be fifty or older by 2035.
Longer life expectancy is resulting in this ageing population – someone in the UK turns fifty every 40 seconds – making baby boomers a powerful consumer force.
The biggest spenders on fashion for example are women aged 50 to 64.
The challenge for those wishing to sell to this market is to avoid stereotyping or being patronising.
Mick Jagger may be the same age as John Major but one probably wouldn’t approach them in the same way !
From my own experience as a business and life coach, I have noticed that this older generation frequently possesses certain characteristics – such as optimism, quiet confidence, patience and commercial experience– which makes them ideal business owners.
If sellers of businesses or their agents appreciated these qualities they would come to realise that baby boomers represent their ideal target market.
In the words of Mark Twain, “ Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter. “