The SBO Millennial Shake-up

Millennials are rethinking and reshaping not only the American Dream, but the world.

As a proud Gen-Xer (insert grunge guitar strum here), I don’t know if I’ve heard as much talk of a single generation as I have about Millennials. What gives with the flooding limelight?

It could have something to do with the fact that they’re the biggest generation in U.S. history (83 million!). And they’ve grown up in a period of rapid change. As a result, Millennials have a set of priorities and expectations way different from previous generations. This means major changes to the Small Business sector as we’ve known it.

Millennials even see themselves in a completely different light. While Baby Boomer Small Business owners describe themselves as hardworking and dedicated, and Gen-X as independent and realistic, Millennial Small Business Owners believe themselves to be creative, confident, and optimistic.

Currently, Millennial entrepreneurs are finding the most success in retail, professional services (such as accountancy and law), and technology. But keep your eye on financial services, social media, and eCommerce, as Millennials will likely turn these industries into hotspots in the near future.

Speaking of hotspots, the majority (68%) of Millennial Small Business Owners are bringing the heat to California, Texas, and Florida.

But let’s drill into a few specific qualities found among Millennials that are causing major shifts in the small business environment.

Challenging Tradition: In the Workplace and the Gender Role Space

The traditional career path they are not taking. Millennials prefer to work independently, rather than in conventional office jobs. Out of necessity (blame the perfect storm of a tanked economy, poor job prospects, and student debt), but also out of sheer doe-eyed optimism, Millennials are shucking well-trodden career paths at alarming rates.

Given the economic environment they were handed, starting a company when others aren’t hiring is a logical response to a tough economy. But they’ve also widely been told to follow their passions and to chart their own course, and are now poised to become the country’s most prolific Small Business Owner population.

Female Millennial entrepreneurs are showing clear strategy and strong leadership, often outperforming male counterparts, despite the fact that they are still often overlooked in the business world.

Close your eyes and conjure an image of a successful Millennial entrepreneur. Does he look like Mark Zuckerberg? If so, time for a new visual. Female Millennial entrepreneurs are showing clear strategy and strong leadership, often outperforming male counterparts, despite the fact that they are still often overlooked in the business world.

Recent research done by BNP Paribas found that the average turnover of Small Businesses led by female Millennials is 22% above average, and expected gross profit levels of female Millennial entrepreneurs is over 5% above average. Men are clearly not the only ones willing to take risks.

 Digital Immersion

Millennials understand social media and internet culture better than any other generation before them. As the first generation to be digital natives, it’s no surprise that Millennial SBOs give themselves a high grade on tech-savviness.

Saturated in media, they rely heavily on smartphones and tablets to run their businesses. According to a 2014 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, 44% said they could not run their businesses without these devices for more than a day.

This tech-hungry community of Small Business Owners feels technology gives them a sense of control, and most are eager to increase productivity at work with Internet of Things (IoT) products.

Social Good

You think they take their gadgets seriously. Millennials have a strong set of values and expect the same of brands. The stats are just as serious: 84% consider brand values before buying, and they remain loyal to brands who stand for something.

89% of Millennials are more likely to buy from companies that support solutions to specific social causes.

In fact, 89% are more likely to buy from companies that support solutions to specific social causes. And word of mouth is crucial; Millennials like to seek advice from other entrepreneurs, particularly via blogs and podcasts.

Say what you will about their alleged entitlement and laziness (I’ve personally worked with many and have yet to see these qualities), Millennials are rethinking and reshaping not only the American Dream, but the world.

And brands must more effectively address this generation’s unique way of learning and doing business through creative and innovative ways.