There’s A Mid-life Crisis Looming For The Channel As SMBs Boom

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Post Office survey shows SMB founders to be 45-54 which could have a knock(ing)-on channel effect

It seems that those who are going through their mid-life crisis no longer dash out to buy a sports car but are plunging their savings into starting their own business. There is a boom in SMBs start-ups and, according to research by the Post Office, it is the 45 to 54-year old entrepreneurs who are leading the pack.

In the face of this, perhaps it’s time for the channel to reassess the profile of new employees. People happily take advice from their peers and more senior folk so, if the midriff of the customer-age contour starts to bulge in favour of middle-aged, perhaps it’s time to reflect that when taking on staff.

Mature markets

In the Post Office survey, 37 percent of the respondents said they were in the older age bracket and this formed the largest sector in the study. The majority of these would-be entrepreneurs said they chose their new path because it offered them a chance to work in a field they were genuinely interested in (30%).

Entrepreneurship begins at 50For 23 percent, the desire to earn more money was the biggest attraction and is perhaps indicative of a growing awareness that starting up new business in the 21st Century is easier than it has ever been. Running a business, especially under current economic conditions, is a different proposition.

This is where technology can help to make or break new business and separate the entrepreneurs from the chancers. Taking advantage of the digital revolution may be costly from the outset, but the return on that investment can easily compensate for that.

The problem is that these Generation X wannabes were the last to be brought up in an information-technology-free world. Though the digital revolution bloomed around them, they probably don’t have the same attitudes or understanding of technology possessed by the under 45s. In short, they need help, advice and encouragement to adopt the latest tranche of business tools.

What they probably don’t need is a tablet-waving youth trying to flog the awesomeness of the latest “sick” technology. They would rather trust someone displaying a few grey hairs of experience to lead them through the selection and buying processes.

Quite a number of the respondents to the research were women who see flexibility and freedom as their main driver (48%). Judging by the survey results, these women approach business more cautiously than their male counterparts and tend to keep their day job going while starting up their own enterprise.

Pete Markey, chief marketing officer at the Post Office, said: “It’s exciting to see that it is the more seasoned Generation X professionals at the heart of UK SMBs, using their skills and experience to run their own businesses.”

Around 73 percent who took part in the survey claimed to have some kind of business premises which implies a shop or an office and that, in return, suggests the need for hardware, software and services. There is an obvious channel opportunity because it is important for the owner of a fledgling business to want to concentrate on serving their customers rather than customising their servers.

The Post Office commissioned the survey to see how it could adjust its services to make them more attractive to startup SMBs and e-tailers. Perhaps it’s time for the channel to reassess how it too can adapt to this changing landscape.

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Author: Eric Doyle
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