The Empowered Millennial Business Owner

Karl R. LaPan President & CEO, The NIIC

What stereotypes do you associate with Millennials? Noncommittal? Undisciplined? Entitled? Millennials are the most entrepreneurial exposed generation but the least entrepreneurial generation. So what gives? A recent survey by Wells Fargo might challenge your preconceived notions when it comes to younger business owners.

First and foremost, the survey suggests that this generation is concerned about legacy. The majority (80 percent) say they hope to pass their businesses on to their children someday. In order to achieve that end, Millennials are more likely than their older peers to take on debt for the sake of growth (seizing opportunities). In fact, two-thirds of Millennial entrepreneurs surveyed said business debt is necessary at times, and they are willing to make that sacrifice for potential long-term gain.

More than 40 percent of Millennial entrepreneurs have already taken on some form of personal debt on behalf of the business, compared to one-third of older small business owners. This reality exists within the context of mountains of student loan debt that many Millennials are already grappling with that reality, and it has stunted the rate of entrepreneurial firm formation for this generation and their likelihood of survivability of their venture.

Despite the financial burdens, younger business owners tend to be bullish on the future. Three-fourths of Millennials surveyed said their business is poised for growth in the next year, compared to half of older entrepreneurs. However, it takes more than optimism to execute on a high-performance company strategy. It takes focus and execution on The NIIC’s 4 Entrepreneurial Success Pillars – Capital, Talent, Workplace & Networks.

Along with a healthy dose of optimism, they share a common sense of humility. Case and point, less than half claimed to be “very knowledgeable” or “successful” when it comes to financial matters. What they lack in knowledge, they make up for in attitude. Younger business owners are more likely to seek out help online or from friends (“social proof”) and family and other sources than the older generations.

Like it or not–as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers age and retire–Millennials are becoming the next generation of leaders. The question then becomes, are we doing enough to ensure they succeed. If you are a Millennial business owner or are closely associated with one, you know that gaining access to capital and learning what investors want can be tricky. Know that The NIIC has the expertise and resources available that can help you manage the capital continuum. For information on finding money or the right outside partners for your venture, contact The NIIC at 260-407-6442. We are on your side.


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