Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Transitioning Your Business to Millennials: An Owner's Survival Guide


This article was originally published by Business in Vancouver and has been reproduced with permission.

“When I retire, I plan to ______________.” Most people facing retirement have a long list of ideas surrounding trips to take, groups or clubs to get involved in, home projects to tackle and extra time spent with loved ones. After all the time spent daydreaming about retirement, it’s finally approaching and WAIT, there’s so much preparation yet to do from both a personal and business perspective.

If you’re a business owner, the succession process can be even more complex. Looking for and/or grooming a successor to effectively run your business and carry on your legacy is not a quick or easy process and requires in-depth planning.

Are you a baby boomer? It’s just a guess. Of the millions of existing businesses in Canada, most were founded and are still run by baby boomers on the verge of retirement. Many are unaware of just how much working knowledge they are taking with them. So what happens when these boomers (that’s you) retire?

Let’s Talk About Tomorrow’s Leaders

It seems like only yesterday we started talking about millennials in the workplace. However, considering the fact that millennials were born between 1978 and 2004, the oldest are now approaching 37. In fact, by 2025, this generation will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce – which means organizations are facing an entirely new challenge: preparing millennials for executive roles.

Many, if not most of the potential successors are millennials – an entire generation that tends to be overlooked by boomers. Cliché as it may be, as the next generation of leaders they need to be embraced and integrated seamlessly into the team. So how do you do that?

  • Identify leadership potential within the company

Perhaps you already have young and innovative talent on your team and don’t need to actively recruit them from outside of your business. If so, assess their capabilities of taking on a leadership role and find opportunities to mentor them in order to develop the skills and experience needed to succeed as a leader.

  • Bring them into the fold

Spark intellectual curiosity by making sure that the work you offer is meaningful and challenging. If you’re looking to develop the next generation of leaders, you’re going to need to offer them opportunities that will enable you to see if they’re suited for the role and to help them develop the skills needed to succeed. Include them in management meetings or take them to site visits so they are able to get a good understanding of the business and begin visualizing where to take it next.  

  • Take a chance

Delegating tasks can be nerve-wracking when you’re dealing with a new or younger member of the team. But putting confidence in their ability to deliver will only help bridge the gap and promote professional development that will pay off well into the future. At the end of the day, it’s not in their best interest to fail and a fresh perspective could end up bringing more opportunity to the table than you expect.

  • Use them to get up to speed

Generally speaking, millennials are a tolerant, curious, positive, sharing, connected, flexible, generation that are true to themselves. Their up-to-the-minute understanding of innovative solutions, round-the-clock availability and global engagement will keep your organization ahead of the curve in today’s constantly shifting technological landscape.

Looking Forward

Achieving success in business is hard work. After all the sacrifice, risk and commitment what’s next? Passing the torch can be a difficult step, but when you’ve given tomorrow’s leader the foundation they need to grow your legacy, you will be left with a clear path to a future designed from your own blueprint. After all, dreams don’t retire.

Contact Shane King, CPA, CA National Leader, Succession Services 604.536.7614 or [email protected]