Ageing Entrepreneurs and Business Transfer Challenges in Croatia

Petra Mezulić Juric, Mirela Alpeza, Sunčica Oberman Peterka


Business transfer as a research topic awakened the interest of researchers in
the past few decades. Business transfer is defined as a change of ownership of
any firm to another person or legal entity assuring the continuous existence
and commercial activity of the enterprise, and it encompasses different kinds
of transfers both to family and non-family members. Ageing and consequently
retirement are often mentioned as the reasons for entrepreneurs’ exits
from the companies and intention to initiate the business transfer process.
A successful business transfer process is one of the key prerequisites for longterm
sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises. There is a significant
number of ageing business owners in Croatia who will exit their companies
in the coming years. Considering the number of these entrepreneurs and the
influence their exits can have on company stakeholders and national economy
in general, it is of great importance to better understand the factors that
can influence the choice of their exit strategies. The aim of the paper is to
provide an understanding of the dilemmas that the ageing entrepreneurs face
when considering different exit modes. The data for the study was collected
through in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted with six ageing
business owners. The analysis of the interviews enabled the identification of
the challenges that ageing entrepreneurs face in the business transfer process:
emotional attachment to the firm, strong preference for family succession and
concerns about financial security after retirement. Some of these challenges are
a result of the undeveloped business transfer ecosystem, strong tradition and
cultural values that imply family succession as the only acceptable exit strategy
for retiring company owners in Croatia.


business transfer, entrepreneurial exit, ageing entrepreneurs, SMEs, business transfer ecosystem

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