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4.8: Trends in Business Ownership

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    As we learned earlier, an awareness of trends in the business environment is critical to business success. Many social, demographic, and economic factors affect how businesses organize. When reviewing options for starting or organizing a business or choosing a career path, consider the following trends.

    We all hear and read a great deal about the “graying of America,” which refers to the “baby boomer” generation heading toward retirement age. This unprecedented demographic phenomenon—in 2006 the first of 78 million members of the baby boomer generation turned 60—is driving the ongoing battle to stay young, slim, and healthy. Every day, 10,000 boomers are turning 65, and the trend is likely to continue until 2030. Boomers have transformed every life stage they’ve touched so far, and their demographic weight means that business opportunities are created wherever they go.

    With their interest in staying fit, Boomers are contributing to the growth of fitness and weight-loss franchises. In just the past year, this category in Entrepreneur’sFranchise 500 has grown to over 50 franchisors. And according to the IHRSA, 52.9 million Americans belong to a health club—up from 39.4 million 10 years ago—so there are plenty of consumers feeding this growing trend.22

    Another area of boomer-driven franchise growth is eldercare. Founded in 1994, Home Instead Senior Care is recognized as one of the world’s fastest growing franchise companies in the eldercare market, with a network of over 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises in 12 countries. And as the world’s population continues to age, the need for its unique services will continue to increase.

    Home Instead Senior Care provides a meaningful solution for the elderly who prefer to remain at home. Compared with the annual cost for a nursing home placement ($72,000–$92,000), home care at around $45,000–$60,000 a year is somewhat more affordable. Elder quality of life is enhanced by Home Instead Senior Care’s part-time, full-time, and around-the-clock services, designed for people who are capable of managing their physical needs but require some assistance and supervision. Home Instead Senior Care provides meal preparation, companionship, light housekeeping, medication reminders, incidental transportation, and errands. These services make it possible for the elderly to remain in the familiar comfort of their own homes for a longer period of time.23

    But the best deal yet may be adult day services, one of the fastest-growing franchises and “still one of the best-kept secrets around” according to Entrepreneurmagazine. Based on the concept of day care services for children, Sarah Adult Day Services, Inc. offers a franchising opportunity that meets the two criteria for a successful and socially responsible business: a booming demographic market with great potential for growth, and excellent elder care. Programs such as SarahCare centers are highly affordable for its clients, costing around $17,900 a year. The SarahCare franchise allows entrepreneurs to become part of an expanding industry while restoring a sense of dignity and vibrancy to the lives of older adults.24

    Millennials—individuals born between 1980 and 2000—are the largest living generation in the United States, according to Pew Research. Millennials spend more money in restaurants per capita than any previous generation. They have been recognized as changing the restaurant scene by looking for brands that offer customized food choices, quality ingredients, freshness, authenticity, transparency, and environmental and social responsibility. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s report, two out of three millennials are interested in entrepreneurship. According to Forbes magazine, 72 percent of millennials would like to be their own boss, 74 percent want flexible work schedules, and 88 percent want “work–life integration.” When it comes to owning a franchise, growth potential and meeting a flexible, fulfilling lifestyle are both something that attracts Millennials. A survey by the CT Corporation found that 60 percent of college graduates wanted to start a business after graduation, 67 percent lacked the know-how, 45 percent didn’t think they could come up with a name, and 30 percent were not knowledgeable about how to market the business. Franchising is the perfect solution to these issues. For example, Chicago area native and millennial Sal Rehman grew up working in his family’s diner. Sal had a dream of operating his own restaurant, and he decided to take the franchising path. In 2015, at the age of 27, Sal opened his first Wing Zone store in suburban Glendale Heights, Illinois. He currently owns five Wing Zones.25

    Boomers Rewrite the Rules of Retirement

    At age 64, Bob Drucker could be the poster child for retirement except that the concept makes him recoil. Drucker is living his dream. He and his wife have a large house on Long Island where Drucker kicks back by floating in his pool when he’s not spoiling his granddaughters with trips to Disneyland.

    “The only way you can get me out of here is to carry me out,” Drucker says, referring to RxUSA, the online pharmacy he founded and runs in Port Washington, New York. “I love my work, and I cannot imagine sitting home and doing nothing.”

    Drucker is not alone. Today’s boomers are working longer at their jobs and embracing postretirement second careers, which often means starting their own small business.26 As retirees opt to go into business for themselves, they are choosing different forms of business organizations depending on their needs and goals. Some may start small consulting businesses using the simple sole proprietorship form of business organization, while couples or friends might choose to become partners in a retail or franchise venture.

    The more healthy and energetic the baby boomer generation remains, the more interested it is in staying active and engaged—and that may mean postponing retirement or not retiring at all. The annual retirement survey by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that as this record number of Americans approaches retirement age, many are not slowing down. In fact, 51 percent of boomers plan to work in some capacity during their retirement years, and 82 percent indicated that they will not retire at or before age 65.27

    Mergers and Foreign Investment Boom, Too

    After shunning big deals for more than three years, corporate America has launched a new merger wave. In 2016, North American companies announced deals totaling almost $2.0 trillion. Many of these deals were large ones, with the largest deal, announced in 2016, AT&T’s merger with Time Warner for over $85 billion. In addition, foreign merger activity has reached a new high. Worldwide deal volume in 2015 was 44,000 transactions totaling $4.5 trillion. In 2016, the number of transactions increased to over 48,000, one of the most active periods of merger activity to date. Non-U.S. companies accounted for about two-thirds of the transactions. European companies’ cross-border transactions led the way, with deals totaling more than one trillion dollars. The increase is the result of improving economic growth and better stock prices.28

    This current boom in mergers feels different from earlier merger mania, however. New players are entering the arena, and the number of U.S. and foreign companies making cross-border acquisitions has increased. Whether these new mergers will be good for the global economy remains to be seen. Transactions that lead to cost savings, streamlined operations, and more funding for research and capital investment in new facilities will have positive effects on profitability. Many deals, however, may fail to live up to the acquirers’ expectations.

    Foreign investment in U.S. companies has also increased dramatically. Annual foreign direct investment reached $373.4 billion in 2016.29 The jump is the result of a worldwide boom in mergers and acquisitions and the need to finance America’s growing trade deficit, as well as the continued attraction of the U.S. economy to investors worldwide.

    And what about American investment in foreign economies? It is skyrocketing as U.S. businesses seek out opportunities in developing countries. According to the Congressional Research Service Reports, the outflows from the United States into foreign countries now exceeds $6.4 trillion a year.30 In addition to the attraction of cheap labor and resources, U.S. companies of all sizes continue to tap the intellectual capital of developing economies such as China and India, outsourcing such functions as payroll, information technology (IT), web/email hosting, customer relationship management (CRM), and human resources (HR) to keep costs under control and enhance profitability.


    1. What are some of the demographic trends currently impacting American business?
    2. As a prospective business owner, what could you do to capitalize on these trends?
    3. What other economic trends are influencing today’s business organizations?

    4.8: Trends in Business Ownership is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.