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What Your Birth Certificate Says About Your Exit Plan

By Larry Giroux on November 22, 2021 in Blog1 Comment

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In the green industry, we’ve learned that age has a big impact on your attitude toward your business and how you feel about getting out one day. Here’s what we’ve observed in Ewing’s hundred years in business:

Landscape Business Owners Between 25 And 46 Years Old

Twenty- and 30-something business owners grew up in an age where job security did not exist. They watched as their parents got downsized or packaged off into early retirement, and that caused a somewhat jaded attitude toward the role of a business in society.

Business owners in their 20s and 30s generally see their landscape companies as a means to an end, and most expect to sell in the next five to 10 years. Similar to their employed classmates who have a new job every three to five years, landscape business owners in this age group often expect to start a few companies in their lifetime.

Landscape Business Owners Between 47 And 65 Years Old

Baby boomers came of age in a time where the social contract between company and employee was sacrosanct. An employee agreed to be loyal to the company, and in return, the company agreed to provide a decent living and a pension for a few golden years.

Many of the landscape business owners in this generation think of their company as more than a profit center. They see their business as part of a community and, by extension, they see themselves as a community leader.

To many boomers, the idea of selling their company feels like selling out their employees and their community, which is why so many landscape business owners in their 50s and 60s are torn. They know they need to sell to fund their retirement, but they agonize over where that will leave their loyal employees.

Landscape Business Owners Who Are 65-plus

Older landscape business owners grew up in a time when hobbies were impractical or discouraged. You went to work while your wife tended to the kids (today, many more landscape businesses are started by women, but those were different times), you came home, you ate dinner, you watched the news and you went to bed.

With few hobbies and nothing beyond work to define them, landscape business owners in their late 60s, 70s and 80s feel lost without their business, which is why so many refuse to sell or experience depression after they do.

Of course, there will always be exceptions to general rules of thumb but — more than your nationality, marital status or educational background — your birth certificate defines your exit plan. In fact, in Lawn & Landscape’s recent “State of the Industry” report, they found 25% of respondents in the green industry anticipate selling their company in the next decade. If you’re starting to think of your exit strategy, no matter how short-term or long-term that plan is, it’s also a good time to start thinking about building the value of your business and what that transition looks like for your company and you, personally.

As part of the Ewing ProAdvantage program, we offer members tools and resources to evaluate their exit readiness and business value through The Value Builder System™. Want to learn more? Start with your company’s personal Value Builder Score.

Larry Giroux photo
Larry Giroux
Larry Giroux is Ewing's Market Development Manager. With nearly 30 years of green industry experience, Larry provides Ewing and its customers with a wealth of knowledge of the landscaping business, from products and application to sales and marketing.

One Response to What Your Birth Certificate Says About Your Exit Plan

  1. Phyllis Clark-Kirkman November 23, 2021 at 9:50 am #

    I’m afraid the Panacea of “selling your business” will not likely exist for most of us. Especially if you are a small, mom and pop operation. We have built a decent, profitable, well-respected business over the last 25 years and have been trying through a broker to sell it for the last year with absolutely no interest and no luck. The Brokerage helped us value it, put very little effort into marketing it, and are now telling us it’s overpriced and there is no market for it. Many lessons learned too late, many things to watch out for. We are in the over 65 group and resonate with your assessment of each stage of aging and being in business. You’d better start thinking about selling the day you hang out your shingle, and if you aren’t planning for that from my start, you will be sorely disappointed in the results. Develop a backup plan to selling because you are going to need it.

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