There are many stories about entrepreneurs in the Millennial generation that tend to circulate as total truisms without a lot of facts to back them up.
Millennials are often described as lazy, self-involved, and the trophy generation. Entire articles are written about the failings of this group of young adults--articles that often don't do much to base their assertions in reality.
Let's examine four of the myths that are told about Millennials, especially as they relate to young adults and entrepreneurship:
1. Millennials Flock to Cities
There were almost 80 million future Millennials born between the years of 1980 and 2005. Young adult entrepreneurs often do start their first businesses in big cities, but many Millennials are staying in the suburbs or moving to rural areas.
Many Millennials are starting their businesses in their off-hours from work--whether they're in a big city or not. They will often start up with nothing more than a laptop and a WiFi connection, and since most of the United States has access to high-speed broadband access, most of the country can be a great place to start a business.
2. Millennials Are Unwilling to Take On Debt
While many experts have talked about how Millennials are less willing to take on debt than their elders when it comes to entrepreneurial costs, they often fail to discuss the mitigating factors that face Millennials.
Millennials have graduated into an economy that has been struggling for many years, and they've generally done it with a substantial student loan debt from earning their degrees. In fact, the average number of college graduates with student loan debt is 60 percent and the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student debt.
When they're surveyed by groups like Wells Fargo, they say that they're quite willing to spend money on their nascent businesses, however.
So where's the discrepancy?
Most entrepreneurs are well aware that banks are less likely to loan money to people who really need money; this is doubly true for young business owners. When a bank sees that someone has a substantial amount of debt already, they are less likely to give that person a loan.
This leaves Millennials searching out other methods of funding their businesses, which can include credit cards, alternative loan sources, and more, all of which carry much higher interest rates than traditional bank loans. This can make it much harder for businesses to get off the ground.
3. Millennials Are Serial Entrepreneurs
Millennials have a reputation for starting a business with the goal of selling it off and moving on to their next idea. When they are asked directly, however, they think of their entrepreneurial goals very differently.
As the Wells Fargo survey shows, four out of five Millennial entrepreneurs said that they were thinking of their businesses as long-term investments that they'd be able to pass on to their children, even if they hadn't started families yet.
The perception of Millennials as serial investors may have more to do with the way venture capitalism, particularly in the tech industry, obsesses over finding the next unicorn company. For Millennials who are trying to make names for themselves in the tech sphere, being able to show that their company will be eventually valued at incredible dollar amounts helps them to get the funding they need--even if they have no intention of selling the business or business idea.
The youngest generation of entrepreneurs has realized that to be successful as business people, they will need to bootstrap their ideas, learn how to do a little bit of everything, and be innovative and creative. Putting all that work into one business idea just to sell it isn't efficient.
4. Millennials Think Of Themselves As Business Owners
Older generations had very specific ideas of what made them business owners. Millennials told Wells Fargo that they were just as likely to call themselves freelancers or entrepreneurs as business owners.
This may reflect different perceptions about what each of these groups considers ownership to be, or it may reflect changes in how exactly Millennials are working for themselves. This is primarily important because, for example, someone who thinks of themselves as a freelancer might not think of the Small Business Administration as a resource that would be helpful to them.
Overall, Millennials have entered the workforce with a lot of disadvantages, and some serious positives. They are hardworking, innovative, creative workers, who are ready to disrupt the industry in many ways that can help the world change for the better.
What myths have you seen dispelled about millennial entrepreneurs?