Millennial entrepreneurs drive change in and outside the workplace, from founding innovative companies to devising new solutions for complex problems.
If you’re a millennial interested in owning a business, check out the following advice from young, successful entrepreneurs.
How Millennial Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Business World
Millennials make up the largest living adult population, according to the Pew Research Center. As consumers, they influence marketing and product development. Likewise, millennial entrepreneurs and employees fuel workplace changes.
According to Annie Singer, a millennial entrepreneur and founder of Reciple, an ad-free online recipe platform, “the millennial generation is breaking free from workplace traditions that don’t serve us, especially in work-life balance.”
Danielle Graves, the chief executive officer (CEO) of leadership coaching and consulting firm The Aramint Group, said, “we are monetizing our gifts, skills and experience to create the businesses and work environments that were not made available to us [and] unapologetically placing much-needed emphasis on life balance.”
Their comments are backed up by research from Deloitte’s “2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey,” which identified the top 4 non-financial business priorities of millennials as:
- Ensuring work-life balance
- Supporting worker mental and physical health
- Supporting employee development
- Helping staff be their authentic selves
John Ross, founder and CEO of test prep review company Test Prep Insight said, “millennials are reshaping the American business landscape in a number of ways, but most prominently through disrupting established service industries.”
Cooper “Coop” Mitchell, the founder of Garage Gym Reviews, said social platforms enabled millennials to monetize “an opinion and personality.” Consequently, “being a trusted source of information is something millennials have capitalized on.”
“For every sort of old school service that’s been done one way only for a hundred years,” John said “Millennials are finding ways to make them more efficient and streamlined through leveraging tech.”
Young Entrepreneurs: Quotes on Business Challenges
Millennial entrepreneurs face multiple barriers to business ownership, from startup funds to learning curves.
According to the Education Data Initiative, “14.8 million millennials have student loan debt, more than any other generation, and the Housing Finance Policy Center notes that “millennials are less likely to be homeowners than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.”
Creating a Business Out of Necessity
The opportunity share — defined by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as the “percent of new entrepreneurs who created a business by choice instead of necessity” — decreased in 2020.
Before 2020, on average, about 19%-20% of new entrepreneurs start a business out of necessity each year. Millennial entrepreneur and Enneagram Burnout coach Hillarie Kay is one of them.
“My entrepreneurship journey started out of desperation and the need to be in control of my schedule both personally and professionally as I navigated being divorced and a mom of 2 with a special needs child,” she said. “The main goal being [to] get to the top while juggling my personal life.”
Finding success and balance can be incredibly challenging for caregivers, including women in business.
Securing Startup Funding
While Shampaigne Graves, CEO of the marketing and education firm Bold Babes Companies, said started her business “with an initial $20 investment,” Olivia Tan, co-founder of the online faxing service CocoFax, took out a bank loan.
In contrast, Annie sought venture capital (VC) funds. “As a young non-male person, it has been a struggle to find people who are willing to give me a chance. I personally struggled in gaining admission to accelerator programs.”
According to Pitchbook’s U.S. VC Female Founders Dashboard, “companies founded solely by women garnered 2.2% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups in the U.S.” in 2020.
Female founders haven’t seen VC funds increase much over the past 14 years. In 2008, they received 1.8% of capital invested. In the third quarter of 2021, that figure is at 2%.
Overcoming Learning Curves
Although millennial entrepreneurs are passionate about their brand’s main offerings, adopting a CEO mindset and overcoming weaknesses is difficult.
Yuvi Alpert, founder, creative director and CEO of Noémie, a direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand, said, “having come from another country, there were cultural differences that I had to learn and then adapt to my business. Trying to adjust my promotions in this rapidly fluctuating environment made for a steep learning curve.”
Shampaigne said, “with no entrepreneurial experience or education, it left a huge learning curve as a chief executive officer.”
“One of my regrets when I was constructing my business was being under the impression that I could be the jack of all trades,” said Business coach Lattice Hudson.
Danielle summed it up: “Hurdles that I’ve faced on my entrepreneurship journey include the mindset transition from employee to CEO, adjusting to wearing almost all the hats in my business at the outset and the learning curve of what it takes to create and manage a profitable business.”
5 Tips for Young Entrepreneurs From Experienced Millennials
It takes hard work to become a young successful entrepreneur. Break down barriers to entrepreneurship with the following entrepreneur advice and tips.
1. Figure Out Finances First
Give yourself a solid foundation for business growth by setting up your finances from the get-go.
Lattice offered these tips for young entrepreneurs:
- “Do not mix your personal and business finances. The hassle and inconvenience of managing mixed finances is a waste of resources.”
- “Do have forecasted budgets. At the heart of a business plan lies the financial expectations from each planned activity. A startup needs to have budget planning executed before the write-up of a business can even begin.”
2. Find a Mentor and Update Your Skill Set
Transitioning from employee to business owner is daunting. Mentors provide help for young entrepreneurs.
Some of the best entrepreneur advice includes:
- Lattice: “Always look for mentorship. A business is built on an array of expertise and talents, some of which you probably haven’t mastered as of yet. The sooner you realize the limitations of your own self, the faster you will find the right people to lead the way where you cannot.”
- Annie: To overcome VC funding challenges, she has “been leaning heavily on the mentors that I have gained through my corporate career for the guidance and advice that I need to succeed.”
- Shampaigne: “It took years of continuous education and $30,000+ reinvestment in mentorship from more seasoned entrepreneurs in order to overcome my learning gap.”
- Danielle: “I’ve overcome [challenges] by enlisting the coaching and mentorship of industry leaders who have allowed me to significantly collapse the learning curve. It’s been a huge game-changer for me.”
- Coop: “I knew nothing about the digital space. I didn’t know how to build a website or edit a YouTube video, but I figured it out along the way. The first content I made was bad, but it gave me something to refine over time. I realized that people were much more interested in a trustworthy source, so they were willing to tolerate a less than great production value as I built the brand.”
3. Understand Your Purpose
“I believe that owning a company poised to succeed and make a real impact is contingent on going after a mission you love, and others can get behind,” said Ninh Tran, CEO and co-founder of the hiring platform Snapbrillia.
“Through taking the risk and entrepreneurship, I was able to see my imagination, dreams, and ideas grow and materialize into real-world problem solutions that make an impact on other people’s lives,” he said.
4. Develop Coping Mechanisms for Stress
After experiencing burnout while running her marketing agency, Hillarie realized that “marketing was my zone of excellence and not my zone of genius. I worked hard finding that zone of genius and figured out how I could really achieve balance in my life both personally and professionally without burnout.”
Hillarie recommended the following steps for managing mental health as an entrepreneur:
- Reconnect: “Spend time reconnecting with yourself, [including] your wants, needs, and desires.”
- Self-awareness: “Become aware of your emotional behaviors and patterns that start to occur when you’re stressed.”
- Recognition: Discover the “strengths you possess that can help you overcome the common obstacles which lead you into stress patterns.”
5. Embrace Digital Marketing Trends
Young entrepreneurs don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
“The fast-paced world of social media marketing is much easier to follow than it is to create,” Yuvi said. “Planning ahead and paying close attention to trends … is a must. Those who stop moving with those changes will find themselves falling quickly behind.”
Shampaigne agreed, saying, “The internet has allowed us the freedom to make an income using platforms we already frequent. Social media has been especially transformative in helping millennial entrepreneurs create income from their social profiles.”
“The barrier to entry in the digital world is actually very low, so people shouldn’t use it as an excuse,” Coop added. “YouTube is a free platform that automatically recommends content, and buying and hosting a website can be done for less than $100 a year. So, it’s never been easier to build up a business.”
Millennial Entrepreneurs: An Influential Force
Turning a startup into a successful venture isn’t easy. But there are many resources and services providing help for young entrepreneurs, along with plenty of inspiring stories.
Realize your potential by working with purpose, finding balance and forecasting your financials.