We've all heard the stereotypes: Millennials are entitled, lazy and unprepared to tackle the challenges of adulthood. And while these generalizations have largely been squashed, one thing remains certain--Millennials are different from their older counterparts. This is especially true among business owners who happen to be ages 22 to 37 and qualify as card-carrying Millennials.
According to the Capital One Small Business Growth Index, when compared to older generations, Millennial business owners are:
- More optimistic
- More likely to offer benefits to their employees
- More focused on innovation
Those attributes don’t make these business owners sound lazy, entitled or underprepared, do they? Here’s a deeper look at how the millennial generation’s approach to business ownership stands out.
Millennials are more cautious, but also more optimistic
Business optimism for all business owners is down eight points compared to Fall 2018, but Millennial optimism stands out. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Millennial business owners say current business conditions are good or excellent, compared to 68 percent of GenX, 55 percent of Baby Boomers and 37 percent of Mature business owners ages 74+.
This high level of optimism could be because Millennial-owned businesses are growing steadily -- more than half said their financial position had improved in the past year, and more Millennials reported increased sales during the past six months, compared to their older counterparts.
Martin Solorzano, the 30-year-old founder and CEO of Staffed, Inc. is one of the optimistic business owners, reporting that “we’re in a growth period right now-;in fact, we’re doing three times as much this quarter than this quarter last year.”
Although Millennials tend to be more optimistic, the Small Business Growth Index also found that 69 percent are concerned that a recession could impact their business in the next 12 months. Older business owners are much less likely to worry, with only 44 percent of Gen-X and Mature business owners and 50 percent of Baby Boomer business owners reporting concerns.
Making their business a great place to work is a priority
Hiring and retention is a challenge for all business owners-;especially in a tight labor market. Millennial business owners are taking a markedly different approach, with two-thirds offering more benefits, like paid time off, flexible work environments, and healthcare, as a way to compete for talent. Unsurprisingly, Millennials are also the group most likely to market their business as a great place to work.
Offering differentiated office perks is also top of mind for most Millennial business owners, with more than half investing in things like games and food to keep current employees happy and appeal to prospective hires. Only about a quarter of older business owners are doing the same.
Innovation fuels their business growth
While some Millennials can remember America Online (AOL) CDs, most grew up with the internet at their fingertips, giving them a clear advantage when it comes to implementing technology within their business.
Innovation is a major driver of optimism among Millennial business owners: more than half say that innovation within their business makes them feel more optimistic about the future. Only 28 percent of Gen-X, 31 percent of Baby Boomer and 31 percent of Mature business owners feel the same way.
And beyond driving innovative practices in their own businesses, Millennials are on the lookout for how technology is changing the broader landscape. In fact, 100 percent of Millennial business owners with $1-$10 million in revenue believe artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is already impacting or will impact their industry in the next five years, compared to 53 percent of Gen-X, 51 percent of Baby Boomer, and 66 percent of Mature business owners.
While they’re focused on innovation, Millennial business owners may have a blindspot: less than a third (30 percent) feel pressure to change aspects of their business, like customer experience, based on industry innovation driven by large companies like Amazon.
Learn more about the Capital One Small Business Growth Index here.