Millennials have been recognised as a generation of future entrepreneurs. We take a look at their characteristics and explore why they are so well suited to this role.
Quick takeaways if you’re in hurry
- A 2015 Manta survey showed that 66 percent of small business owners surveyed believed that millennials will lead the way in entrepreneurship in the future
- In the Deloitte Millennial Survey, 70 percent of millennials stated that they might reject traditional business to work independently
- Millennial entrepreneurs have a set of characteristics born of the climate they grew up in and graduated from: these character traits make them ideally suited to excel as entrepreneurs.
Read on: Why Millenial Entrepreneurs are on the Rise
(reading time: 5 minutes)
If you’ve heard associates talk about millennials in a business context, then the chances are it was with frustration. Millennials – those born roughly between 1980 and 2000 – are also referred to as Generation Y. They are the generation who have been nicknamed ‘generation me’ and have a reputation for being hard to satisfy in the workplace.
So it may be surprising that this generation is now emerging as a successful group of entrepreneurs. Or perhaps, given their character traits, it’s not so surprising after all. Read on for more insight into these millennial entrepreneurs.
Why millennials have become entrepreneurs
In 2015 Manta conducted a survey exploring the relationships between small businesses and millennials. In that survey 66 percent of Small Business Owners surveyed believed that millennials will lead the way in entrepreneurship in the future. Their potential to fill this role is born of a combination of circumstance and character.
The business climate they graduated into
If millennials have been perceived as dissatisfied with their jobs then it’s worth considering the context for this. For many, their final years of university happened at the same time as the global economic crisis was playing out. For those born later their education occurred in the aftermath of the 2008 upheaval.
The side-effect of this timing was that millennials emerged into the workforce at a time when companies were down-sizing or at least freezing recruitment. Leaving university with debt to pay; jobs were scarce and unemployment was on the rise. Millennials struggled to find the roles they were looking for.
Added to the job shortage was the additional challenge of finding a business that matched growing expectations. The Deloitte Millennial Survey of 2014 highlighted how important it is for this generation of employees to value their employer, and vice versa. 75 percent of those surveyed felt that businesses could do more to develop future leaders. 78 percent were influenced by how innovative a company was when deciding whether to work there. Overall millennials demonstrated their belief that businesses were in operation to do more than just make money. When asked if businesses could do more to help society: 68 percent said yes regarding resource scarcity; 65 percent sought more action around climate change; and 64 percent wanted to see businesses work to improve wage equality.
As a rule, millennials do not restrict their values to their personal lives: they expect to see them reflected in their business lives. The context for this generation to seek the opportunity to branch out on their own and make their own future was set. In the Deloitte Millennial Survey, 70 percent of millennials stated that they might reject traditional business to work independently.
Why millennials make great entrepreneurs
The right role models
When millennials do make the move to start up their own businesses, they bring some valuable character traits to their roles. Millennials grew up with entrepreneurs as role models. Previous generations had looked to big company CEOs to define success. This generation could look to Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or a range of other successful young entrepreneurs for inspiration. With entrepreneurs as role models, millennials learned to think on their feet and seek innovation to drive progress.
As a group of business people, this generation is highly collaborative. This bucks the trend of previous generations where ideas were held as secrets and plans were kept close to your chest. For millennials the focus is on achieving the goal. They will adapt the way that they work to make that happen. They value knowledge and experience over education, and recognise that working as a team is a great driver of innovation.
Technology and purpose
Millennials grew up in a technologically advanced age. This has led to them be incredibly well placed to start up businesses and operate as entrepreneurs. Because they understand the technology required to make things happen: they make them happen. They can also see beyond the limitations of current technology to perceive the future potential for their business.
Being motivated by purpose, millennial entrepreneurs believe that business is about more than just making money. Their success is defined by different parameters, and these fuel their entrepreneurial spirit and encourage them to do things differently and more effectively. With consideration for ethical, humanitarian and ecological goals.
Innovation in business and life
Alongside their ability to challenge the status quo, the entrepreneurs of this generation are without doubt willing to think outside the box. These millennials embrace creativity by being unafraid of throwing out the way that things have been done in the past and trying something new. They never stop learning and so they never stop evolving their thinking and exploring new ways of achieving their goals.
This innovation extends beyond products and services, and goes further into culture and working practices. Millennial entrepreneurs are less constrained by traditional offices, face to face meetings, and workplaces than any previous generation. Their focus is instead on creating a life in balance: overturning the work-life balance aspired to by previous generations. Because work creates value and purpose, not just money, it is integrated into living. The lines between work and ‘personal’ life become blurred, and goals become shared between the two.
In the past the millennial was singled out as a challenge in the workplace. Now the millennial as entrepreneur is challenging our definition of a workplace. Millennials have been born of a context that caused them to question the value of business. That questioning, combined with the other skills that are embedded in their generation, has created an age of entrepreneurs. Millennial entrepreneurs are determined to create value from business. With Generation Y in charge, the small business world can expect exciting times ahead.
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