Here’s what these owners look for in a candidate. Many older people have a strong edge in these:
— Know the ropes. Good work ethic.
— Professional demeanor and appearance.
— Ability and willingness to master new systems and technologies. Not Facebook and Twitter, but accounting and inventory control.
— Practical experience handling varied situations. Not just book learning.
— Strong customer service personalities. Customers like maturity. So do vendors.
— Used to taking initiative, solving problems, and then telling how they solved it. Not asking how to handle every unfamiliar thing.
— Likely to stick around. Not constantly shopping their resume around.
— Seen as a wise and mature person by other employees, especially subordinates.
— Kids are older or grown. Fewer sudden absences because little Johnny has the sniffles.
— Can see the managerial picture. Good understanding of what the owner is up against. Able to take the viewpoint of the company, rather than acting like a “shop steward.”
Many owners I work with are looking for a strong #2–someone with the capability of taking a leading position in the company, to free the owner up to focus on strategic concerns. One of my clients recently hired a woman in her late 40s to become the ops manager of her 10-person company. They are now negotiating for the manager to buy her out, so my client can retire.