Who will buy the businesses when the baby boomers retire? No one. Unless… 

Twice recently, the question has come up: who is going to buy the stores in my town when their owners retire in a few years?

In small towns, this is a pressing question. If you lose a key business because the owner can’t sell it, it’s probably gone for good. 

Buying an existing business is a big step. You’re going to have to come up with money to pay the retiring owner the price of all the business assets. You’ll need additional money to cover the cost of rehabbing, remodeling or updating the building. You’ll need to update the inventory, too, so add money for that. This is starting to add up to real money. 

Then you get to run the business. Maybe some customers leave with the old owner. Maybe the retiring owner let things slide a bit, and you’ll have to rebuild. You have a big management job ahead of you, too. 

So who is going to be able to pull this off? First, let’s talk about who is not going to be able to pull this off: a first time business owner. That’s just too much to ask for someone’s first try. We’re looking for people who have had experience in business and have built up some assets of their own. 

Where do we find these people with business experience and assets? They are people who started smaller, maybe even tiny. We’re looking for people who did a booth at the big festival, then started doing all the fairs and shows they could find. They graduated to having a store-inside-a-store, then doing a pop-up store for a few months in the holidays. They experimented. They learned. They grew.

In other words, we grow our own. We set it up to have business booths at events and festivals. We pass the regulations to allow food and retail trucks. We use empty lots to hold a business fair. 

The only way to grow the business owners we want to have in 10 years is to create more entrepreneurial experiments today. 

Think about your next event, project, or promotion. How can you add a business experiment opportunity to it? 

Keep shaping the future of your town, 

PS – Glenn Muske wrote a great article on how Small Businesses and Communities Share a Relationship
And the discussion continues in the comments at How to get small town businesses to cooperate