by Dave Driscoll
We read about it everywhere. Where are the younger workers and professionals? Why are there so many unfilled positions? Why can’t we hire the talent we need?
More and more, we are hearing about the great resignation, work/life balance, taking a year off, renting an RV and traveling the country even with school-aged children in tow.
This disruption in the “normal” workforce stems from the pandemic lockdown and the shockwaves everyone has experienced with sickness and deaths of family or friends. Finding a younger worker who has not experienced pandemic-related anxiety would be a rarity. Tragically, they have learned at a younger age than recent generations that “normal” life can quickly change dramatically or be cut short.
This fear and reality are empowering them to take risks and make decisions that Boomers and Generation X wouldn’t have imagined. Millennials and Generation Z are exchanging the paradigm of a “steady paycheck” for the freedom to experience life, family and nature on their terms.
The pandemic also has unchained portions of the workforce from the office cubicle. Office workers now can conduct business and earn a living from wherever they choose. How many of us used Zoom almost daily five years ago, as we do now? Parents appreciate the flexibility to lessen childcare burdens and accommodate other family considerations. Commuters of every age aren’t sacrificing time in traffic. Many have realized they are more productive without the interruptions, distractions and temptations to chat with co-workers. Unrestricted locations and flexible hours provide the freedom to maximize productivity and allow for more time to explore and make financial choices to follow their hearts and dreams.
While following their dreams, many workers are continuing their independence and not delaying gratification. Meanwhile, supply-chain issues result from a shortage of workers to manufacture, offload, transport, and stock products.
The M&A broker community has been experiencing increased buyer activity throughout the pandemic, supporting the quest for “lifestyle businesses” that provide autonomy. Owners were slow to join the trend initially, but currently are fully engaged in pursuing their dreams, including selling their businesses to embrace retirement with a focus on family, grandchildren, travel and all the other things they had been postponing.
A logical question is: Where are younger buyers getting the money to purchase mature sellers’ businesses? There are many sources for the equity needed to qualify for the necessary loans and facilitate the unprecedented business buyer/seller activity. A few examples include:
- Personal savings (see PSR paragraph above)
- Friends and family
- 401(k) retirement accounts (think about stock market growth rate over the past four-to-five years)
- Seller financing - Sellers can contribute a buyer’s equity with a small seller note
A younger buyer can find financing to complete a business purchase through conventional sources, such as banks and credit unions. To qualify for traditional financing, borrowers need to conform to conventional lending standards of equity inputs from 20% to 30%, qualifying credit experience, leverageable underlying assets of the business being purchased, and adequate free cash flow coverage to support the debt service required to purchase the business.
Another source of financing is the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA still focuses on the fundamentals of lending but also can assist a borrower with less onerous terms, such as percent of equity input and length of amortization. The SBA views seller notes as a plus, and that can be considered in the total equity input required from the buyer. Also, the SBA’s focus is on the historical free cash flow produced by the business, with less emphasis on underlying assets.
So, where are the workers?
Many are buying businesses that support their definitions and visions of a well-balanced life.
Given what we have all witnessed and experienced in the past couple of years, priorities have shifted. Having been a business owner my entire career, I can understand why younger workers are choosing the entrepreneurial lifestyle and not allowing others to dictate their paths.
Dave Driscoll is president of Metro Business Advisors, a business brokerage, valuation and exit planning firm helping owners of companies with revenue up to $20 million sell their most valuable asset. Reach Dave at DDriscoll@MetroBusinessAdvisors.com or 314-303-5600. For more information, visit www.MetroBusinessAdvisors.com.