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How Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs Can Teach Millennials Successful Business Ownership

Baby Boomers can teach millennial entrepreneurs about business ownership. Review the Fresh Insights article to learn about sharing business owner knowledge.

When it comes to being successful business owners, millennial entrepreneurs could learn a few things from older and more seasoned boomers who have a few more years of entrepreneurship under their belt.
The fact is baby boomers are responsible for more entrepreneurial activity today than any other age group, according to a recent study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Some experts attribute this surge in baby boomer entrepreneurship to the rising number of boomers who are retiring from careers spent in corporate jobs in order to start new businesses they’ve dreamed about their entire lives.
Millennials and Generation Y often are portrayed as the new young, hip and cool face of entrepreneurship. And many of them have inherent strengths and skills that can help them in their entrepreneurial endeavors, often including a high level of technological savvy and expertise.
But what some of them might lack in technology skills, prosperous boomer entrepreneurs usually make up in other areas critical to entrepreneurial success. Here are four entrepreneurial lessons that millennial entrepreneurs could learn from successful baby boomer business owners:

1. Strive to become a great leader, not just a good manager. This is perhaps the most important lesson for young entrepreneurs to learn — because there’s a big difference between managing people and leading them. Good managers can organize teams so that work is done efficiently. And they can supervise employees to make sure they are doing their jobs right.

But being a successful business owner requires going beyond management to true leadership. Leaders cast a vision for the organization and share this vision with employees and other stakeholders. This enables them to see the role they play in helping the business reach its goals and make the vision a reality.

2. Work on honing your financial expertise. It takes a lot more than a good idea or even technical expertise to create a successful business. In fact, more startups fail due to poor financial management than because of a bad or poorly executed idea.

Money management, along with understanding and managing cash flow, is especially critical. Young business owners often don’t understand the difference between cash flow and profits — they see lots of black on the P&L and start counting their riches before they’ve collected their cash. Poor cash flow is one of the leading causes of small business failure.

3. Learn to evaluate talent. No matter how brilliant the entrepreneur might be, it usually takes a strong team to make a new business startup a success. This makes keen talent evaluation one of the most important skills young entrepreneurs must learn.

One tendency young entrepreneurs often have is to hire employees who are similar to themselves. But this is the exact opposite approach they should take. Instead, small business owners should look to hire employees with skills and talents that can complement their own. If an entrepreneur has strong technical and product development skills but is weak in financials, for example, he should hire at least one employee who has strong financial skills to compensate for this weakness.

4. Focus on building a strong network. This can literally take a lifetime to achieve, so older entrepreneurs naturally have a leg up on millennials in this area. However, it’s important for millennial owners to focus on building their network of industry contacts, bankers, investors, CPAs and other influential professionals early in their entrepreneurial careers. Doing so can pay big dividends throughout their entrepreneurial lives.

Of course, baby boomer entrepreneurs can learn a few things from millennial entrepreneurs as well. Both boomers and millennials should try to suppress any preconceived notions they might have about members of the other generation and instead learn what they can from the unique perspectives and experience each brings to entrepreneurship.
For more helpful tips on addressing your business’s top challenges, visit Cadence Bank’s Fresh Insights.

This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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