As the nation's government transitions, there's one subset of Americans who are feeling largely unheard. If you look at how millennials voted in last week's election, our nation was awash with blue.

So much so, that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton felt the need to reassure this demographic of voters not to "lose heart". They called for calm, for inclusion and for unity.

With so many of our young voters feeling so disenfranchised, it got me thinking about whether we're building a country where the next generation can thrive? Are we setting them up with a country where they can succeed?

With a front seat to the recession, many in the millennial generation grew up watching their families lose jobs and struggle financially. With the economy still recovering, millennials are entering a competitive workforce where job prospects are limited. Because of this unusual outlook, and unlike their generational predecessors, millennials don't view 'success' in the traditional sense of the word.

In order to better understand millennial small business owners, my company, Xero, surveyed more than 1,200 entrepreneurs in the U.S. - speaking to current and former entrepreneurs. We gained some surprising insights about this subset, which shines a bit more of a light on what separates them from those that came before them. What we found out is interesting to anyone managing millennials or doing business with them.

They're Leaders

Climbing the career ladder isn't a drawcard for millennials like it was for their parents. Fifty-two percent of millennials said they chose to pursue entrepreneurship because they wanted to be their own boss. Maybe leadership is in this generation's DNA. Whatever it is, millennials seem to be more inclined to follow their passions and take the road less traveled rather than sticking it out at a company they have no real interest in for decades.

They Don't Live To Work

It's no wonder that when asked how they measure the success of their business, millennials don't look to traditional KPIs. Their benchmarks for success relate more to their personal lives. The ability to maintain a schedule that allows for time to travel and pursuing personal interests is the second most important gauge of a successful business for 67 percent of millennials. The first being flexibility and work-life balance for 79 percent of millennials. It's proof that millennials are more interested in chasing experiences than baby boomers.

They Generally See The Glass As Half-Full

Even with swirling uncertainty facing the economy, millennials aren't too phased when it comes to the growth of their companies. Forty-nine percent remain cautiously optimistic about their company's growth. It's not the only area in their businesses where they're feeling generally positive. Fifty-seven percent report having both a loyal customer base and are experiencing revenue growth. Profits are up for 31 percent and 46 percent are looking to boost their marketing efforts.

They Run Their Business In The Cloud

For the millennials measuring the success of their business based on the level of flexibility they have, it's likely the individuals achieving this desire are running their business on cloud technology. This unprecedented access to cloud-based applications means that getting a business up and running on suitable software is easier than ever. An apparent product of their upbringing, millennials are more likely to run the majority of their business operations on cloud technology. One-third of millennials do so while only one-fifth of baby boomers do.

Millennials are different to baby boomers in more ways than one. And while millennial entrepreneurs are their own breed, their outlooks on their businesses provide insight into how the widely-covered generation tick.

Published on: Nov 15, 2016