By Sean Geng, CEO & co-founder at Smoke Cartel.
With images of young multi-million dollar company founders such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Evan Spiegel of Snapchat, and Susan Gregg-Koger of Modcloth continually splashing across the screens of our devices, it's no wonder why so many people believe millennials and entrepreneurship go hand in hand.
Although many millennials have an entrepreneurial mindset, fewer in this generation are starting their own businesses before the age of 30 than their baby boomer counterparts were. In fact, the Kauffman Index claims that the average age for a successful start-up founder today is 40-years-old. Millennials will range from 22 to 37 years of age in 2017. According to industry leaders, such as Forbes, this trend may likely stem from the burden of student loan debt, their highly valued job security goals and their aversion to risk-taking.
What, then, sets successful millennial entrepreneurs apart from those not even starting their own businesses? We believe it's a combination of these next five factors.
Business education, and more importantly entrepreneurial education, is the most essential factor for creating a successful start-up. Not only does education help entrepreneurs avoid pitfalls novices often find themselves in, but education can also illuminate areas of potential growth they never thought possible without the support of knowledge backing them up. Although education often occurs in the formal classroom, many millennials are sourcing their learning from other avenues such as podcasts and mentors since most colleges still don't offer entrepreneurial education as part of their curriculum.
Of course, experience is one of the best resources for learning, and entrepreneurs should take this factor seriously if they ever hope to run their own business one day. Experience often teaches people how to effectively build teams, how to problem-solve on the fly, how to market a product and how to make useful connections. For entrepreneurs who lack innate talent, together education and experience can make up for their deficiency in this area.
It goes without saying that successful entrepreneurs are the ones who think outside of the box when it comes to ideas, resources, and implementations. Those who can't adapt to changing markets, new technology and culture shifts rarely succeed in their ventures. Sometimes creativity comes in the form of a unique product idea, and sometimes it's used to solve a budget crisis. Whatever a new business owner faces, usually creativity plays a part in the solution.
Patience and Persistence
Most companies don't reach instant success overnight. In fact, entrepreneurial millennials start an average of 7.7 companies during their lifetime, most of which are probably duds. Even founders of tremendously successful businesses such as Disney, Ford and Twitter started one, if not several, failed businesses before launching their respective legendary corporations.
Some businesses require patience in market trends, advancement of technology or the right investor to spring it toward success. The entrepreneur just need employ the art of patience while waiting for these factors to fall into place. Nonetheless, the biggest difference between the founders listed above and a failed entrepreneur is persistence. Successful start-ups don't quit at the first sign of trouble. If it really is time to move on from a particular idea, successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes, get back up and try again.
One factor that always plays a part in any success story is timing. Not only must a product fill a current need, but it also has to beat others to the punch. Retail companies such as Smoke Cartel are taking advantage of the growing online shopping trend and combining that with the budding popularity of their products as culture and law shift in their favor. The success of this small start-up largely depended on the timing of both of these dynamics working simultaneously. With technology continually speeding up life, timing will become a larger and larger factor for businesses now and in the future.
Every start-up is a risk. Every investment is a risk. What sets failure apart from success is whether the risk was an ignorant risk or a calculated risk. Smart entrepreneurs do eventually need faith when it comes to their start-up, but they also need to know how to minimize risk by identifying possible stumbling blocks and using effective measures to prevent them. They continually gather data and input from competitors, market trends and customer feedback in order to measure their risks and adjust accordingly. Jumping off of a cliff is always a risk, but jumping with a parachute at least makes it a calculated risk.
Sean Geng is the CEO & co-founder at Smoke Cartel - The World's Largest Online Headshop.