As more Millennials and Gen Zers enter the workforce, the persistent stereotype that these individuals shy away from hard work is unraveling. They're putting in long hours and taking on multiple jobs. They're motivated by the prospect of financial stability, having grown up during the Great Recession, watching their parents face job loss and financial hardship.
That experience, coupled with current economic circumstances, have not created the best environment for young entrepreneurs to thrive. Many recent college graduates are struggling with debt and finding jobs in their chosen fields, which wouldn't ideally position them to pursue their passions independently. But 66 percent of Millennials want to start their own business, and Gen Z is projected to be even more entrepreneurial than that.
There's great potential in these groups. Despite reservations and setbacks, many young people are pursuing side hustles, creating their own opportunities, and going into business for themselves. In fact, even though some economic conditions have worked against young entrepreneurs, Millennials and Gen Zers have several natural characteristics that will lead them down the path of small business ownership.
Entrepreneurship and new ventures have the most significant impact on the economy, driving job growth, shaping the future of work, and creating entirely new products and services. Millennials and Gen Zers hold the power to do this, as we will soon see them start small businesses in ever-increasing numbers.
Why Millennials and Gen Zers Are the Future of Small Business
Young people are on the cusp of trends and technology. With their combination of dedication, optimism, and tech savvy, here are six reasons Millennials and Gen Zers are perfectly positioned to develop small businesses.
1. They Are Digital Natives
Younger generations are no strangers to the power of the internet. Not only do 91 percent of Gen Zers surveyed use technology to broaden their horizons and learn about the world around them, but they also expressed the belief that technology will help them realize their ideas.
Their ability to quickly master a growing number of digital tools will also help younger generations achieve their business goals.
2. They Are Socially Responsible
Both Gen Zers and Millennials are characterized by their concern about the world around them, and they are highly motivated to address problems. In fact, they are seeking jobs that will allow them to do just that. Sixty percent of Gen Zers reported that it was a priority for them to have a job that would make a positive impact on the world.
Fortunately, when Millennials look at societal problems, they also see opportunities. Whether they want to rescue stray animals or address global poverty, young people innovate solutions that they can turn into business pursuits.
3. They Are Tech-Focused
In addition to pursuing socially conscious ideas, Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to develop tech ventures. Because technology is a natural part of their daily lives, younger entrepreneurs are going to be quicker to spot opportunities for tech to improve everyday tasks -- or even to invent ways to improve existing technology.
4. They Prioritize Company Culture
The rise of companies incorporating fun, food, and more into the work environment is largely in response to the desires of Millennial workers. Adopting a "work hard, play hard" mentality, young employees believe that balance is crucial to their success, and they seek out jobs based on company culture. Even more than that, Millennials want to be their own bosses, and they want to shape small business culture.
Bucking the stereotype, Millennials are working hard to create their own startups, and they step up to take on leadership roles. Motivated by the confidence they have to work independently managing businesses and finances, Millennials believe they have the power to create the career and environment they want.
5. They Have a Side-Hustle Mentality
Further confirming the truth that Gen Zers and Millennials actually work very hard, many of them balance school or a full-time job along with a side hustle. In fact, half of Millennials and Gen Zers have a second job or entrepreneurial endeavor. Whether they take on additional responsibilities to help pay for bills, classes, or something special, it demonstrates that these workers are dedicated to achieving their goals.
This willingness to take on extra responsibility, as well as an aptitude for juggling multiple commitments, will serve young entrepreneurs well. In fact, they are likely shaping their future small businesses now, as startups often begin as side hustles.
6. They Strive to Do What They Love
Pursuing their passions is another priority for Millennials and Gen Zers. They won't settle for less. This positions them perfectly to become small business owners.
Going to work for yourself is nothing if not an endeavor born out of passion. Owning a small business hinges on going after something you love to do, so many Millennials and Gen Zers will be naturally drawn to building businesses themselves.
Take the example of Ben Pasternak, who parlayed a hobby into a business. His love for gaming and apps helped him develop programming skills, as well as a good sense of why and how his peers use apps. This led him to create a game-like app that has gotten more than 1.3 million downloads on iTunes. Many young entrepreneurs are likely to find themselves stumbling onto a business opportunity while pursuing activities they love.
Millennials alone outnumber Baby Boomers by 7.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. When combined with Gen Z, these young cohorts have the clout to shape the future of business as we know it. And given their natural talents and preferences, the outlook for Millennial- and Gen Z-owned small businesses is promising.