Millennial Bosses: How Will They Impact Entrepreneurship?
Jul 01, 2019
As time advances, so do attitudes about life and career. In the eyes of many millennials, entrepreneurship is the path that promises the best quality of life as it relates to finances and personal fulfillment (as opposed to working at the same company for decades until retirement). No longer are the days when young adults land a well-paying job in their field. In fact, most graduates face a catch 22: They can’t get hired for entry level positions because they lack three to five years’ experience, but those who’ve completed internships along with their degree are rejected by employers for being “overqualified.”
Mired by exuberant living expenses and mountains of student debt, this demoralizes many millennials as they struggle to make ends meet. As a result, many young adults take the plunge and become entrepreneurs because it seems to be the most viable option. Clouded by the arduous and time-consuming job of finding employment, many don’t realize the additional hardships and stressors that come with being your own boss. In other instances, millennials are aware of how difficult entrepreneurship is and still jump at the prospect of running their own show. For them, this beats the relentless flail in a bleak job market and an over-priced higher education system.
This generation has seen more individuals pursue entrepreneurship than any other generation prior. According to Forbes, millennials - people born between the years of 1980 and 1995 - are also starting businesses at younger ages than their predecessors. On average, millennials start their first business around the age of 27, while baby boomer entrepreneurs started their businesses around 35. Some millennials started their entrepreneurial journeys in college or in their 20s. Additionally, 72 percent of millennials believe that startups and entrepreneurial ventures are important to drive the economy and support the job market.
In today’s technology-driven world, an individual can run a business completely online. Thus, more and more people have the access and resources to start their own business. Even if a person chooses to go the more traditional route, there’s a wealth of information online for those who don’t know where to start - and unlike business school, all this information is free. However, this doesn’t mean that millennials don’t face challenges in the pursuit of successful entrepreneurship.
The United States’ student debt crisis of $1.5 trillion presents one of the largest challenges for millennials with aspirations of starting a business. Not only do they face a lifetime of debt due to higher education, but the degrees they’ve earned have failed to open the doors that were promised.
As of 2017, more millennials had bachelor’s degrees than their older counterparts, with 60 percent of millennials being graduates that year in comparison to the 32 percent of generation X when they were the same age. However, even with more individuals being educated than ever before, most graduates are forced to work low-paying, minimum wage jobs that don’t fit the quaalifications they worked so many years - and paid so much money - to achieve. Without jobs in their field, millennials are less likely to acquire the experience, networking and finances needed to venture out into the business world on their own. And if they do venture out, the likelihood of success is unfavorable.
Debt and dismal job prospects aren’t the only financial challenges facing millennial entrepreneurs. Lenders, investors and even potential clients may stereotype an individual because of their age and not give them the same consideration they would a baby boomer or even Generation X. Additionally, most millennials lack adequate savings and credit history. These factors, on top of the inherent challenges for a person of any age starting a new business, place young people seeking to carve out their own opportunities in a precarious position.
In addition to these obstacles, there are several differences in how baby boomers and millennials run their businesses. For most of today’s generation, their desire to go into business relies less on accumulating wealth and more on making a difference in the world at large.
Additionally, as the generation that grew up during the Great Recession, financial stability is a burning motivator for business as opposed to being obscenely rich. Advancements in technology overhauled the way businesses are marketed, and no other generation has a relationship with the digital age quite like millennials. And, despite their reputation for being entitled and lazy, some millennials are no strangers to working multiple jobs at once to make ends meet.
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials make up nearly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. Forbes states that 39 percent of workers age 18-24 and 44 percent age 25-34 work more than one job, according to a CareerBuilder survey.
Whether or not the boom in millennial entrepreneurship will be successful can only be determined years down the line. Anyone can start a business, but only a few can maintain one successfully. It takes a combination of work ethic, skill, experience, open-mindedness, quality employees and sound guidance from others to maintain a successful business. And while factors such as skill and experience multiply and strengthen with age, every person must start somewhere.
Currently, the job market doesn’t favor millennials, so it’s no surprise that so many of this generation have opted to create their own opportunities - or at least attempt to. Until the burden of student debt is eased, the cost of living (such as food, rent and health insurance) is brought under control and college graduates find jobs in their field that provide adequate compensation, millennials will continue to take their future into their own hands by way of entrepreneurship. Per the status quo, what’s to lose?
OPINION: This article was written from a millennial’s perspective.