Millennials are a unique generation that have grown up completely immersed in digital technology, with instant access to information and the power to connect with peers in any part of the globe. Smartphones and social media have left an indelible mark on their personalities and attitudes. Though often perceived as self-loving and lazy, millennials are also civic-minded and feel morally responsible for the wellbeing of fellow human beings.
Another important characteristic that sets millennials apart is their strong affinity for entrepreneurship. According to a survey conducted last year by Ernst and Young in association with Economic Innovation Group (EIG):
- 62% millennials have considered starting their own business.
- 42% millennials cited poor financial means as the biggest hurdle on their way to becoming an entrepreneur.
Millennials are in love with the idea of being ones’ own boss and revere creative freedom, but that does not translate into making entrepreneurial dreams a reality. This is partly because millennials also happen to be the generation with the greatest financial liability or debt.
So if you are a millennial and are keen to start your own business, what are the pitfalls you need to avoid and what are your strengths that can be leveraged? Read on to know more.
- Do Not Take on Debt
Starting a business by borrowing money from friends and family can potentially create stress and tension. Not only will relationships be affected if you cannot repay on time, but doing so will also rob you of your peace of mind.
Try to bootstrap your venture. It is the best and the most stress-free way you can give wings to your dreams. The millennial economy is also a sharing economy. Look around and it is possible to co-share everything, from office space and office assistants to economic resources. You can use Open Office until you have enough money to invest in software. The new-age employee values flexibility. So if you can run your business using collaborative technology, why not consider foregoing a physical office altogether and allow all your employees the freedom to work location-independently?
Do not be swayed by stories of startups winning multi-million dollar funding. It is perfectly possible to set up and grow a business frugally, and wait patiently for your product or service to win market approval.
- Think of Means to Reduce Your Financial Liability
Education is of great importance to millennials and they do not mind taking on massive debts to earn valuable degrees. If you too are groaning under the weight of student debt, then it is necessary that along with running your startup, you also focus on means of reducing your liability.
There are many ways in which you can reduce your student debt. You can consolidate loans (if you have multiple loans) into a single loan and opt for suitable income-based repayment options. Social Finance or SoFi, an online startup, will enable you to consolidate both, federal and private loans.
You can also consider opting for federal loan forgiveness programs that can be availed under certain circumstances like if you opt to teach kids in low-income areas or work for non-profits.
Several resources are available to young people who want to manage their student debt and entrepreneurial dreams. Explore the options available to you.
- Make Use of Your Command over Technology
Millennials are the true digital natives. They accept, adopt and utilize the latest advancements in tech with no hesitation. This also gives them access to new ways of doing things faster, cheaper and in a far better manner. And, this is what differentiates you, as a millennial entrepreneur, from the rest. Since you have enjoyed childhood experiences with technology, your understanding and grasp over it is massive.
One of the distinct advantages you have is that you appreciate quick and flawless products and services. Companies like Apple, Amazon and Google have set exceptionally high benchmarks for customer experience, and for you this is the norm. This helps you create and deliver seamless customer experience.
Millennial entrepreneurs also give a lot of importance to customer support. Most successful startups impress their early customers with stellar and round-the-clock customer support. User-friendly, intuitive, quick, and efficient products and services are what millennial entrepreneurs excel in providing customers. Sites like Arivify strive to provide as much help as possible to users to address issues related to dealing with property records data.
Millennials also have brilliant social media skills, so there is no reason for you to hire a marketing expert to deal with your outreach activities. These tasks could very well be dealt with by you, especially in the initial years of your startup. Use your network of friends and professional contacts to gain positive word of mouth, as well as online publicity.
Millennial leadership skills are distinct in that they value collaborative efforts and do not hesitate in sharing success with their core team. This will help you build team loyalty and improve team morale, which are key to startup success.
- Have Plan B Ready
Entrepreneurship, though rewarding, is not for everyone. If you are not enjoying the hard work, unpredictability and multitasking, it will be wise to try something else. Also, there are many ways in which you can be your own boss.
Freelancing and contract-based jobs are well-paying and are also easily accessible if you have the right skills and talent. You can also consider opening franchises or become a partner in a friend’s venture.
A strong educational background will also help you if you opt for a corporate career. Your entrepreneurial experience will be of advantage because most employers value candidates who are go-getters and are willing to take calculated risks.
Millennials are at the cusp of a wide range of changes taking place all across the world. Businesses create jobs and help improve lives. Entrepreneurs have immense power to contribute to not only personal wellbeing, but also global wellbeing. So do not hesitate to do things that you are truly passionate about and enjoy the journey.
Written by: Lori Wagoner is an independent content strategist who gives online marketing advice to small businesses. Lori has blogged at Tweak Your Biz, The Social Media Hat and many other business and tech blogs.
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