As the Millennial Generation (born between 1981 and 1997) comes of age, a trend is beginning to emerge – young people entering the world of work are abandoning the traditional career paths of past generations and embracing entrepreneurship.
Studies show that Millennials have a different attitude about work and life balance than their Gen X and Boomer parents did. As a result of watching their elders suffer the consequences of corporate downsizing, disappearing pensions and benefits, and profits taking priority over employees, Millennials no longer trust the old system to provide a safe and uneventful career path.
According to a 2014 study, 66% of Millennials dream of starting a business of their own. Other studies concur:
- 70% of Millennials would reject traditional business models to work independently.
- 1 in 5 want to quit their current jobs and work on their own projects.
- 78% of Millennials are motivated by the concept of “charting their own course.”
Why are so many Millennials eager to jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon?
They want flexibility and control over work/life balance.
Self-bossers are in control of their own time. Because we love what we do, it’s more like life/work integration – our businesses are part of our lives without clearly defined boundaries between life and work. Millennial entrepreneurs don’t shy away from long hours and hard work, but they want to control when and where they do it, and they want to do work that fulfills them.
They’re comfortable with technology.
Millennials, born in the Digital Age, are the first generation to grow up truly tech savvy. They don’t remember a time before personal computers, cell phones, and Google, and they have all the tech tools needed to get a small business off the ground at their fingertips. It’s easier than ever to start a business these days, and a service-based business can be started with little more than an internet connection.
They’re making the best of a bad situation.
Millennial unemployment is double that of older generations. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, many struggled to find work – any work. Some had to take jobs for which they were grossly overqualified. Many had to move back home with their parents. A 2015 study by Upwork and Millennial Branding revealed that 39% of Millennials have had trouble finding a traditional job.
Between the Great Recession and crushing student loan debt, Millennials have had to get creative, and entrepreneurship was an alternative to a lifetime of working in fast food. With the subsequent post-Recession tanking of the economy at the expense of the middle class, they’re not willing to trust their fates to corporate whims.
They have different role models
These days, tech superstar entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel get the kind of hero worship that used to be the reserved for athletes and rock stars. Twenty- and thirty-something billionaires are now role models for ambitious young people. In the 21st century, it’s cool to be an entrepreneur!
So despite the lingering economic effects of the Great Recession, Millennials may turn out to be the most entrepreneurial generation ever… unfortunately in part because their options for a traditional career are limited.
Post-recession reality is that if you want to survive, you have to get creative. For many Millennials, entrepreneurship is the best solution for making a living, doing what they love, and maybe even making a difference in the world.