Business ownership is changing, according to Dan Bauer, Managing Partner of Murphy Business of Minnesota. “From 2009 to 2012, it was pretty tough,” he recalled. “The bankers weren’t talking, a lot of buyers couldn’t buy because there wasn’t any money. I think the trend really changed.” Bauer said that prior to 2009, the time to complete a sale was three to five months. “Now it’s eleven to thirteen months. There are fewer buyers out there. There’s more work to do on the financing side. We work with a lot of different banks around the Twin Cities. We can help buyers with all that.”

There’s also a shortage of good businesses on the market for sale, Bauer said. “People wanted to sell back in 2008-2009. Retirement got pushed off about five years, or even longer. They have to rebuild and have at least three good years. Some people have been pushed out eight years.”

Eventually, Bauer said, “All this is going to catch up with us. We’ll have a lot more businesses on the market.” Still, the demographics of buyers are likely to change. “The people who are buying are older,” Bauer said. “They know they’re going to be working until they’re seventy-plus. It’s not so much the money. They’ve watched the past generation retire at 62, and that person doesn’t last very long.”

The older business owners “might not be working 60 hours a week. They’re buying a business where they can work 20 to 30 hours,” Bauer said. “There are small distribution companies where you set up management so you don’t have to be there 50 or 60 hours a week. There are ways of changing businesses. Just because people ran it one way doesn’t mean you have to run it that way. If you can’t see past the person who owns it, how they run it, you probably shouldn’t buy it.”

On the other hand, Bauer said, “The younger generation is not looking to be business owners. There’s a lot of talk about that. That generation, they want to work for somebody, they want their nine-to-five job. The attitude isn’t what it was thirty years ago.”

Trends aside, Bauer said, today’s buyers range from “the late 30’s all the way up,” and become business owners for a range of reasons. “Some are managers for other companies, corporate people tired of the corporate world, people who want to add onto their current business. That hasn’t really changed. We’re still bringing in people from all different segments.”

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