Today's Millennial generation catches a lot of flack for not being patient enough, or wanting more responsibility than they can handle.
But honestly, Millennials have all that it takes to become one of the most entrepreneurial generations that ever lived--and yet, they are struggling to move forward with their ideas due to the weight of college debt. A staggering 58 percent of college graduates reported having student debt. And since entrepreneurship is not a road that most people venture on, if we take that into account and add the 58 percent, what is left?
The Millennial Economy National Survey found that Millennials have a strong desire to venture on the entrepreneurial path, but that 42 percent of them state that their biggest obstacle is lack of money. Now, I didn't finish college. It was easier for me to dive right into entrepreneurship because I didn't have a bunch of college debt to carry around with me. But when I look back, do you know why I wasn't able to finish college?
Because I couldn't afford it.
Well, that's not really the full reason--I had already started my first business by the time I was in college, and it was doing so well that I didn't think I needed to continue taking classes, so I dropped out. I'm not saying that I turned out successful because I dropped out of college--I tell the story in full in my book, All In.
Don't get me wrong, a college degree can open a lot of doors. But that is exactly my point. Shouldn't college be a place where, once you finish it, you leave with knowledge, a degree, and most of all, opportunities? What kind of opportunities can a young person have with student debt slowing him or her down every step of the way?
There's nothing more difficult than trying to start a business when you're already operating in the red.
Which is why so many of today's successful companies are grooming Millennials to be "intrapreneurs," giving them the tools and resources to build something of their own within an already-established infrastructure.
Successful companies provide Millennials with the following:
- Internal mentorship, with time spent teaching young individuals both about the business, and how to develop and nurture soft skills.
- Projects they can own, allowing them to develop a heightened sense of responsibility and accountability.
- Ongoing feedback loops that let them know (on a regular basis) whether they're moving in the right direction or not.
- Incentives that provide for them to be rewarded for the success of their projects and the impact they have on the company as a whole.
- Networking and learning opportunities from other industry leaders--especially those on the company's leadership team (unlike the companies whose C-suite executives are invisible to the day-to-day employees).
Remember, it was only a couple years ago that calling yourself an "entrepreneur" was something to be proud of. Even just five to ten years ago, being an entrepreneur meant you were crazy and impossible to hire.
Clearly, the masses are acknowledging the value of entrepreneurs in today's society, and if anything we are still in the beginning of what we could call the "entrepreneurial gold rush." Now, everyone wants to be an entrepreneur--especially Millennials.
By taking this approach, as business owners we are both increasing our own potential for success by giving today's young talent the tools they need to succeed, while also educating them on the necessary skill sets for them to one day go off and on their own and build something meaningful themselves.
Too many founders, CEOs, and business owners work to prevent their Millennial talent from ever leaving. I disagree with this sort of mentality. I would rather mentor these young individuals inside my organization, reap the benefits of their hard work, and then see them go off and build something meaningful in our society, than withhold their potential just to keep them around. That sort of approach doesn't help the business in the short term, or society in the long term.
The Millennial generation was born right at the onset of the technological uprising. They inherently understand it more than any older generation. It's embedded into their souls. They grew up with it. And it would be a shame to just funnel them into outdated jobs and industries instead of helping them get the most out of their knowledge base. Long-term, it would benefit us all to give them a slight push in the right direction. Certainly, it's something to be considered, no?
They the ones who are the future of our country and economy.
And we should do everything in our power to prepare them to do great things.