How often do you see an article bashing the millennial generation? Millennials are narcissistic lack a solid work ethic, right? Well, this is not completely true. Millennials are now outperforming the boomer generation in terms of entrepreneurship. The 9-5 life simply isn’t cutting it for the millennials.
According to Fortune, “ ‘millennipreneurs’ are discovering entrepreneurship significantly earlier than boomers did. While the older generation launched their first businesses at roughly 35 years old, so-called ‘millennipreneurs’ are setting out around 27 – which means some of them already have almost a decade of experience.” Millennials are now taking their almost decade of work experience and creating something of their own.
One of the major factors in the rise of the millennipreneurs is the need for flexibility. Most millennials will tell you they are always on. Roughly 90% will answer work-related emails during non-working hours. Unlike their predecessor who leaves the office at the office, millennials are consistently dialed in. Forbes recently wrote a piece on the need for flexibility in the millennial workforce. Forbes said, “77% of millennials say that flexible work hours are a key to boosting productivity within their generation.” However, with baby boomers in charge, flexibility isn’t in their nature leading millennials to seek other options. The article goes on to say, “millennials see chaos, distrust of management, breaking of contracts and bad news associated with business. They’ve watched their relatives get fired and their peers sit in cubicles and they think, ‘There has to be a better way’.”
Another reason millennials are stepping out is the need for their dollars and time to matter. Millennials are compared to the activism levels of the 1960’s. During the 1960’s, consumers boycotted businesses that didn’t fit their social agenda. Now, millennials are behaving much of the same way. They prefer to spend their dollars on a business that has a social aspect. If your business isn’t saving the turtles or helping to provide clean water in a third world country, expect to see a lack of millennial consumers. The need to support a cause with their dollar is driving millennials to specific businesses. Take the business Flex for example. Flex is a company that makes silicone watches in a variety of colors. What’s so special about them? 10% of every watch purchased is donated toward a cause of your selection. The company is thriving at an estimated revenue of $5M. Every review on their website is about the cause behind the watches and not the product themselves. The founder of Flex, Trevor Jones, started his company to honor his mother and support the causes he and so many others care about it. Millennials are using their time, energy and talents to create a business that supports the organizations they care about.
Education is taking notice of the wave of millennial entrepreneurship. Many of the top MBA programs now offer an entrepreneurship track. While most companies are less than excited about this addition to the MBA programs, millennials are thriving in this new academic environment. Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, told Bloomberg, “we have labs, we have studios, we have accelerators and hackathons.” Top MBA programs are using these labs and course offerings to attract future entrepreneurs. While this entrepreneur focus may be problematic for some employers, a lot of companies are excited about millennials bringing the entrepreneur spirit and skillset to their office. Entrepreneurs are taught things like innovation, collaboration and the power of telling a story. These skills can be incredibly beneficial to a company.
So, what does all of this mean? The US government is starting to take notice of the rise of the freelancer/gig economy, something millennial entrepreneurs are dominating. As recent as yesterday, New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act went into effect, protecting the interests of those in a gig economy. Many millennial entrepreneurs are starting online based businesses in the e-commerce and services sector, thus needing the extra protection. New York City will be the first city to protect freelancers and independent contractors. According to Forbes, “millennials helped create a ‘new nature of work,’ with increasing reliance on the gig economy and freelancing.”
Millennials walked into a lackluster economy and are now more prone to fill their needs in a way that differs from their predecessor by starting something entirely their own.