Looking back over the past three years, Christian sounds relieved. “We aren’t living as much hand-to-mouth,” he said. Bert added: “I’m sleeping better now.”
Small-business researchers don’t offer much in the way of data on how many new multigenerational start-ups there are like the Webers’. Still, there are a few statistics: 25.4 percent of new businesses formed in 2016 were started by people age 55 to 64, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, up from 14.8 percent in 1996.
Largely because of two major societal shifts, it’s quite likely that rising numbers of retirement-age parents and their adult children will at least consider making the leap into entrepreneurship together.
First, the combination of longer lives and inadequate retirement savings is pushing more older Americans to earn an income well past their early 60s. The search for meaning and money typically involves encore careers, bridge jobs, part-time employment and entrepreneurship.
“From what I see, the boomer generation gets to the retirement years, and they’re choosing a different version of retirement than the World War II generation,” said Dennis Ceru, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. Multigenerational entrepreneurship is “one such option,” he said.
The second factor is evidence that many boomer parents and their adult children get along well enough to at least entertain the prospect of starting a business.
“Most boomers have a much more friend-based, adult-to-adult relationship with their children than boomers did with their parents,” says Steve King, partner at Emergent Research, a consulting firm in Lafayette, Calif., that concentrates on the small-business economy. “It’s a big social shift.”
For the first time since the 1960s, living with parents is the most common household arrangement for the 18-to-34-year-old age group, reports Pew Research Center. In 2014, more than 32 percent of young adults lived with their parents, up from 20 percent in 1960.
Much of that reflects tough economic circumstances and delayed marriage, experts say, but the trend seems broad enough that it may also involve lifestyle choices and good relationships.
Comparing intergenerational survey data from the 2000s with data from the 1980s, the authors of the academic study “The baby boomers Intergenerational Relationships” note that in 1988 less than half of parents surveyed offered advice to their grown child in the past month, compared with 89 percent in 2008. In addition, 31 percent provided practical assistance in 1988, compared with 69 percent two decades later.
These results echo the key finding from a 2012 survey commissioned by AARP: that young adults “communicate more, interact more, and are comfortable sharing more with their parents compared to boomers when they were young adults.”
For parents who go into business with their grown children, a foundation of mutual trust and ongoing communication should improve the odds of success, Mr. King said. Take the experience of the Burches of Hudson, Wis., who decided, over lunch one day, to open a retail store a decade ago.
The lunch included Elizabeth, a part-time college professor, then 65; her husband Dan, a retired pastor, then 69; and two of their children, Sarah, 37; and Leah, 43. They debated how to lean against what they saw as increasing polarization in society, while also earning an income. Together, they came up with an idea: a gift shop selling sustainable, often handmade items with what they called bipartisan appeal. Six weeks later, they opened the Purple Tree in Hudson, with the parents putting up some $ 10,000. (The name plays off purple as a mix of red and blue.)
“We don’t always agree,” says Sarah, the only family member working full-time at Purple Tree. “But we have managed to successfully agree to disagree and we have been able to reach compromises. We always find a way to talk things out.” The rest of the family shares income from the shop.
Less benign factors can play a role in the embrace of multigenerational entrepreneurship. Age discrimination can be a major hurdle to employment for those 50 years and over. At the same time, young people can find it tough to land a job that’s engaging and offers a career path. For both age cohorts, starting a business can often be a better alternative.
Those were the realities that Rick Harris and his son Tim faced a few years ago.
Rick had worked for years on factory floors in California before building a small business in the Bay Area that specialized in setting up office interiors for start-ups. But business fell off during the financial crisis of 2008.
In 2009, the family moved to Minneapolis, where Rick’s wife, Donna, took a job as head of a private high school in Minneapolis. At age 62, Rick started a new commercial interior venture in the Twin Cities, but the market proved tough for an outsider to break into.
He said he soon began to ask himself, “How long do I want to work?”
At this stage, his son, Tim, was still a student. Tim started college in California but transferred to Concordia College in St. Paul, near his family, and graduated in 2015 with a degree in communication studies.
Tim pursued jobs with advertising and public relations agencies in the Twin Cities. He had plenty of interviews, but they went nowhere.
After the unsuccessful job hunt, Tim asked his father if he could join him in his still young business, Ideal Commercial Interiors — which was essentially a one-man operation. Rick said yes.
“What got me rejuvenated is my son wanting to come into the business,” Rick said. “Tim wants to grow the business. He can be a lot more successful than I ever was.”
They have their moments, usually sparring over technology — but the partnership is working out. Ideal did between $ 300,000 to $ 400,000 in business two years ago, a figure that rose to about $ 1.3 million last year.
For all the successes, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year, and by year five, half close. Those are discouraging odds, especially for older Americans contemplating retirement. In addition, not all families get along. Even for family members who do like one another, dealing with blurred boundaries can be trying.
“It gets back to the relationship challenge,” Mr. King said.
Most important, starting a business typically means putting in long hours, including weekends. Many people of retirement age look forward to more flexible schedules, even if they keep earning an income.
“Most people choose to scale back and pursue other interests,” Mr. Ceru said.
Continue reading the main story
BusinessLoan – BingNews