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The Real Reason(s) Millennials Are Starting More Businesses


Regular readers of this blog likely have at least a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit in them. If you’re a fan of John Chow, then chances are that you’d like to embrace the dot com lifestyle. You’ve likely come to recognize that even if you win the rat race, as John often puts it, you’re still a rat. You understand that it makes a lot more sense (and many more dollars) if you work smarter, rather than work harder. That much is clear.

That’s a big part of the reason why we look up to the huge success stories that came before us, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and even Elon Musk. But they all come from a generation of people who would have generally sought out more traditional jobs with more traditional companies. That’s just the expected path that you took.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit?

Millennials are different. We have to realize that, despite how some of mass media may portray them, millennials aren’t kids anymore. The oldest of this cohort — and I almost begrudgingly include myself among them — are in their late 30s.

And a big trend that has emerged in recent years is that millennials, on average, have much more entrepreneurial ambitions than the Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers who came before them. One study showed that 66% of millennials want to start their own business. But why?

Working from home

The hot take reaction might be that millennials don’t want to be told what to do. They don’t ascribe to the same routines and expected values of their parents and older siblings. And while it may be true that millennials aren’t as interested in the 9-to-5 and ascending the corporate ladder in a more traditional sense, the real motivation goes well beyond that.

You see, for Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, job security meant getting in on the ground floor of a large corporation and working your way up to middle management. If you could keep that job for 40 years and earn a handsome pension, you could retire comfortably.

For millennials, such a vision can sound much more far-fetched. Remember that this is the generation of people who are burdened with crippling student debt from college degrees that might not get them anywhere. This is the generation of people who have endured unpaid internships and underemployment, because those long-term opportunities are few and far between.

They end up freelancing or working as sub-contractors, maybe because that’s the only work they can get. That’s very much the opposite of job security.

Tomorrow Is Always a Day Away

Truth be told, the biggest reason why millennials are starting way more businesses than the generations that came before them is that millennials view entrepreneurship as a clearer path toward long-term stability and job security. Indeed, I wrote about this very topic a few years ago.

As a freelance writer, I have multiple clients and multiple sources of income. The same is also true for Internet marketers, online influencers, or any number of other online business owners. If any one of these income sources disappears overnight, I’ll survive, because I have others. If someone gets laid off or fired from their job, their total income essentially falls to zero. How’s that for job security?

In a recent survey, nearly two thirds of Baby Boomers said that working for someone else provided more job security… but about two-thirds of millennials said they’d find more job security running their own business instead. It’s a complete shift in mindset, predicated by a complete shift in how the world of work looks today.

The Best Time to Start Is Now

And here’s the second part.

For the generations that came before us, starting and running your own business represented a monumental investment of time and money… a lot of money. It can literally takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a humble “mom and pop” shop of the brick-and-mortar variety. But today? You can start a blog with almost nothing. You can create a YouTube channel, open an Etsy store, start a graphic design business… almost anything with virtually no startup capital whatsoever.

Entrepreneurship is far more accessible than ever before.

Put these two factors together and it’s no wonder that millennials are starting as many businesses as they are. Many don’t succeed, of course, but you’ll never know unless you try.


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