Millennials are Changing the Face of Small Business
Known for their technological prowess and relentless drive, Millennials are changing small business.
Entrepreneurship has long been a game of innovation, passion and fierce competition; a sport that is not for faint of heart and there’s a new player in town – the millennial entrepreneur. This tenacious, creative young ‘trep has technology on their side and an appetite for success that cannot easily be satisfied. Born from the economic crash of 2009, millennials are trading in corporate ladders for a career that provides meaning, flexibility and ultimately, stability. With minimal seniority, millennials were often the first to be laid off during the recession and the sting of unemployment has not been easily forgotten. Millennials questioned their loyalty and future with the corporations that were quick to let them go, but instead of dwelling, they redefined their career paths and are emerging as a fresh generation of successful entrepreneurs.
Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials make up the largest generation America has ever seen, comprising of over 92 million people. Experts are estimating that millennials make up 1/3 of the workforce and within the next 10 years, they will dominate 75% of the working class. Millennials are also due to inherit over $20 trillion dollars within the next two decades and currently wield over $200 billion in economic influence. With financial capability and creative strategies, the power of millennial entrepreneurs cannot be ignored. Over 60% of all millennials consider themselves to be entrepreneurs and dream of owning their own business, a statistic that seems to be in line with past generations of small business owners. As a generation known for their technological prowess and relentless drive, millennial entrepreneurs are changing the face of small business and redefining the American Dream.
Boomers and Gen X-ers valued a sense of stability and tradition; become a CEO, get married, buy a house, have kids, and so on, was the American Dream for decades. The crash of 2009 has millennials challenging tradition by rebuffing Corporate America and creating their own start-ups. With a robust start-up scene flourishing in America, more millennials are pursuing their dreams of entrepreneurship with as many as 70% saying they’d reject traditional business and 1 in 5 saying they’d quit their jobs to start their own projects (according to Deloitte). Breaking tradition takes guts and creating a new American Dream in face of a recession shows strength, perseverance and incredible courage.
Millennials were raised on technology and have spent years using phones, computers, the internet and social sites– not surprising that they would bring it to the table in business. Having the digital savvy in this age of ever-changing technology is a major advantage, and you can bet that millennials require the latest and greatest in their business. They also strive for continuous improvement, with many start-up’s main focus being on syncing technology, upgrading and reprogramming for other companies. This innate knowledge for tech also makes a millennial a fantastic team member for your small business as they are skilled in training others and a good sense of figuring out new software on their own.
Civic engagement and community involvement is not new to small business but millennials are placing a priority on giving back. 70% of young entrepreneurs cite community involvement as one of their highest priorities and feel that giving back is a responsibility of businesses. With such a high percentage of millennials valuing civic engagement, expect to see more fundraisers, volunteering events, blood drives and donating in the future of small business.
First order of business – out with the 9-to-5 workweek and in with remote employees working their own hours. As a generation that has been dubbed ‘entitled’ by many, millennials are switching up our workweek to align with their preferences but with the promise of increased productivity. A majority of millennials feel it is unnecessary to spend every day in the office, and many are opting to unconventional working hours that fit better with their schedules. Studies have shown that while millennials are not fond of typical 9-to-5 hours, they are willing to put more hours in on their own time and are often working overtime via their mobile devices. As more millennials enter the small business community, expect to see more people working remotely or from a local coffee shop than in a traditional office.
Having grown up in an era where you earned an ‘A’ for effort, millennials crave feedback. Annual employee reviews are generally cumbersome enough but this generation wants assessments on a more regular basis with some even preferring tidbits of feedback over an annual review at all. Constant feedback is what helps millennials grows, and also shows us that our employer is investing us so it’s no shocker that young entrepreneurs would provide the same for their own employees.
Corporations have created a mindset that employees are easily replaceable and that the bottom line is the #1 priority – millennials want to change that. As the first people to be laid off during the recession, millennial entrepreneurs are placing a higher value on employee well-being and are striving to ensure that team members feel appreciated and valued. In an effort to do this, we are going to see benefit and pay plan being restructured, with some start-ups already providing unprecedented perks such as gym memberships or unlimited vacation days. As small businesses begin to surpass corporations in employment numbers, we may see more creative packages being used to woo recruits.
Earth Friendly Initiatives
Millennials were brought up to understand that we share this planet and resources are limited. From the time they were kids, they have been drilled with the importance of recycling, conserving water and preserving the Earth. As adults and budding entrepreneurs, this generation realizes that they can make an impact and are translating that into their businesses. More start-ups are using environmentally friendly products, ethically sourced labor and creating initiatives to reduce their footprint and this trend is only going to grow. We’ve come a long way in the past 20 years when it comes to preserving the planet but there is still much to do and millennials are taking it seriously.
As self-starters, tech natives, and success-hungry progressives, millennials fit perfectly into the entrepreneurial mold and are on track to take small business ownership to the next level. Every generation has been looked upon incredulously by past successors and while millennials aren’t without their flaws, 66% of small business owners believe that millennials will lead our country to a bright future.