By Warren J. Rutherford
Almost all members of the baby-boomer generation—i.e. those born between 1946 and 1964—are now over 50 years old. Many are thinking about how their life will change after a long career in business. This is especially true for those who have left or lost their previous gainful, productive employment during the recent economic downturn. They may feel out of sync with the changing job market, but need to work again before they can afford to retire.
Fortunately, looking at today’s labour market statistics, there is reason for optimism. Baby boomers who have been laid off and feel like they are losing focus after a period of unemployment and many attempts at getting another job are far from irrelevant to the new economy. The same is true of other baby boomers who are still employed and enjoy the fruits of their labour, but are looking over their shoulders with the worry they could become irrelevant before their time.
On the contrary, baby boomers’ talents, values, behaviour and experience in managing a variety of business situations are all increasingly in demand—just not necessarily in the same areas they may be used to. They can instead excel in franchising.
You are relevant
It is fair to say many baby boomers today feel uncertain, insignificant and disconnected to their work. Their parents retired at 65 years old, so they thought in turn they would retire at a similar age, roughly between the years 2011 and 2026.
Why should they retire, however, when they still have the ability to contribute, serve and share? Why should they simply accept what they have been told in the past?
Their parents’ logic regarding retirement does not need to apply to them anyway. Just because someone turns 65, that does not mean their brain and body stop functioning well. Many 68-year-olds, for example, are excited about continuing to work for quite some time yet.
Also, statistics suggest if too many baby boomers were to retire today, there would not be enough workers to serve many parts of the economy. Due to such demographic employment trends, the percentage of the labour force that is 55 years or older is instead expected to continue to increase between 2012 and 2020.
Assess your assets
As mentioned, baby boomers offer valuable talents, behaviour and professional expertise, but they may not have considered the opportunity to go into business for themselves. And while some people are very good at starting new entrepreneurial enterprises, most are better at learning an existing business system’s structure, instead, and making it work.
So, it is important to assess your assets and learn how they may yet be applied to a different business model than in the past.
Many successful professionals are very good at relating to other people and assessing their talents. Some have learned the importance of precision and paying attention to detail. And some are highly competitive and decisive.
In business situations, these behavioural preferences are essential to understanding how to operate as a franchisee, work with others in your team, carry out processes and conduct effective analyses.
Different professionals are driven by different values to get up each morning and stay focused on their work. Some seek to acquire knowledge for its own sake. Others focus on finding the best value in goods and/or services. And others focus solely on generating revenue in all of their functional activities.
Whether your past roles have relied on your leadership skills, caring and compassionate nature or ability to maximize monetary gain, there are franchisee positions that match your motivators.
Your talents form how you think and make decisions. As a salesperson, for example, you may need to be an accurate listener, with the ability to evaluate what is said and then gain commitment. When leading a business, you need to be accountable for others while following a superior sense of mission. And in operations, you need to be good at quality orientation, project scheduling and meeting standards.
The key is to think back, from early school subjects to later work functions, to determine which you understood intuitively and which you dreaded. Your years of experience will help you refine your talents for the benefit of a new business.
The business model for franchising is simple. Every well-run business, after all, depends on operations, marketing, sales, public relations (PR), purchasing, training and software working well together. The difference with franchising is these systems have already been well-developed, along with a strong mission, vision, strategies and objectives to drive business growth.
When approaching the world of franchising for the first time, it is probably best to think ‘business’ first and ‘franchising’ second, since many of the same skills and resources will be transferable to the new model.
Some franchise models are hands-on. Others are ‘executive’ models, where other people implement day-to-day operations while the franchisee focuses on managing and building the business. Whether you are a leader, a salesperson, an operations manager or a customer service expert, there will be a franchise that fits you.
The secret to success
On the flip side, franchisors that have developed strong operational characteristics for their systems still need people with an accumulated wealth of talents, values, behavioural assets and business expertise to own and run profitable units.
Many baby boomers have the advantage of understanding what motivates them. They are ready to discuss these with franchisors when investigating what talents are required for a specific business.
A theoretical problem-solver, for example, may not be the best match for a role focusing on sales. In other cases, franchisors are looking for more creative and independently minded franchisees that you may have suspected.
It is important to keep an open mind. When baby boomers are ready for the next big step in their careers, many great opportunities already await them.
Warren J. Rutherford is owner and president of The Executive Suite, which provides job placement and employment services, coaching, consulting and franchise investigation procedures. He also works with the MatchPoint Franchise Consulting Network. For more information, contact him at (508) 778-7700 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.matchpointnetwork.com.