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Q: I enjoyed your column about why Baby Boomers make great entrepreneurs and I am sure that that is true. But let me put my vote in for that often-maligned generation, the Millennials. It seems to me that of ever there was a group made for entrepreneurship, it is these creative up-and-comers — Allie
A: You are preaching to the choir my friend. Indeed, to bastardize a writer a tad better than I, I have come today to praise Millennials, not bury them.
In some ways, the Millennial generation has been dealt a bad hand, especially with regard to work. Coming of age after the last recession, the Millennials entered a job market vastly different than the one they were born into. That said, it is also true that the gale force economic winds that they encountered upon graduation had been gathering for a while. Outsourcing, diminishing benefits, stagnant wages, the emerging gig economy — all present and accounted for.
Would you trade places with a new, freshly-minted Millennial job seeker? I know I wouldn’t.
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But the good news is that those same forces that make looking for a job so challenging for new workers these days are the very same ones that, I suggest, make them uniquely qualified to become superb entrepreneurs, to create the next great startup, and the one after that and the one after that.
Independence: These days, top talent wants, nay, expects to be independent and mobile at work. Indeed, in this tight job market, one key to building a great culture and retaining the best talent is to create a workplace allowing employees to work when, where, and how they want.
That same restlessness that drives millennials forward (and some employers crazy) is also a hallmark of entrepreneurship.
Why did I become an entrepreneur? Among other reasons it is because I was a lousy employee. Poll small business owners and you will find this to be common. Entrepreneurs, and Millennials, tend to be independent souls.
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The gig economy: Millennials are used to multi-tasking, having more than one gig at once, and utilizing a variety of skills in a variety of ways.
Who does that sound like? You bet. The entrepreneur.
While I have heard many of the younger people in the workforce complain about the lack of full-time jobs with full-time benefits, I bet if given one of those positions, many would hate it. Too structured. Too much the same. The gig economy, for all its faults, is like entrepreneurship in that it forces one to have many skills.
Tech saviness: Need I say more? Nope.
Given all of this, maybe it should come as no surprise that the latest statistics indicate that most Millennials are with the program; they get that starting a business may be the cure for their summertime work blues. According to America’s Small Business Development Centers,
► 62% of Millennials surveyed said they dream of starting business, and
► About half have specific plans to do so within the next couple of years
And, while interesting, it is this last stat that is the kicker: 61% of Millennials say that they think that their best job security will come from owning their own business.
Other entrepreneurs started their own business for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they wanted to create a more stable financial foundation for their family. Further common reasons include the desire to be one’s own boss, having a great idea, and the desire for work independence.
But job security?
Now, there’s a new one.
And yet it fits in perfectly with the Millennial mind and skill set. For a generation that has never really known job security, it only makes sense that they realize that the best boss they can have is . . . themselves.
Steve Strauss, @Steve Strauss on Twitter, is a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship and has been writing for USATODAY.com for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.
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