Small Business Owners Are Retiring, And Millennials May Not Fill The Gap On America's Main Street

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WORCESTER, MA (September 20, 2018) excerpt via FORBES - A local hardware store in Worcester, Massachusetts recently announced that it was going out of business. This wouldn’t be big news, except Elwood Adams Hardware has been around since the Articles of Confederation. Dating back to 1782, it is (or was) one of the oldest hardware stores in the United States—continually open for 235 years under various owners.

According to the US Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 48% of national employment in the United States. In number, they represent 99.7% of all businesses in the country. Small business owners, some with staffs of 500 employees, others toiling alone in a home office, and plenty more in-between, are the stewards of an enormous segment of the American economy.

In the demise of Elwood Adams Hardware, we can see two forces at work that may figure to change the landscape of American small businesses and entrepreneurship. There is the continuing disruptive dominance of the Internet in the commercial sphere. And, perhaps less well-observed, there are the swelling ranks of retired-or-retiring Baby Boomers, and the emergence of the Millennials to replace them as the brunt of the workforce in the United States...

Shattering the mythology of the backpack toting digitally-empowered Millennial entrepreneur are the stats. It appears that today’s newer entrants to the economy are far less entrepreneurial than preceding generations. One reason might be because they are saddled with an unprecedented amount of student loan debt. Even when those loans are not crippling, they seem to lessen one’s inclination to take on the risk of starting a business. As a result, the ranks of young business owners are not growing in the way we might expect.

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