Looking at the list of the world’s richest people, you’d think that the business landscape hasn’t changed one bit in this century. With only one person on the list being under 40 (Oh, hi Mark!), it seems that there’s a certain age you have to reach to become a veritable business success. But is it true?
Millennial entrepreneurs definitely don’t think so. They are not sitting back and waiting for their hair to go grey. Nor should they. They’re the first generation to be exposed to tech as children, know where to find all the necessary information, and have the confidence to use the tools at their disposal. If they want to.
And people often think that millennials simply don’t want to, since laziness seems to be one of the main qualities associated with this generation. But when they put in the effort, there are success stories all over the world that anyone can learn from.
So, who are these millennial entrepreneurs? What makes them tick? Let’s take a look at some of the success formulas we’ve learned from the younger generation of enthusiastic business owners.
Success Formulas (by and for) Millennial Entrepreneurs
1. Try. Fail. Repeat
The notion of failing before succeeding is not a new one, but embracing failure with open arms and talking about it loud and proud is something of an innovation.
Long gone are the days when experiments were done behind closed doors and hidden from the public eye. Millennials fail. And then they share their failure as a part of moving forward.
Take Kathryn Minshew. Today, she is the co-founder and CEO of The Muse – a career resource full of job opportunities, career advice, and private coaching options. But before The Muse there was Pretty Young Professionals, a site Minshew co-founded for inspiring women in business.
When Pretty Young Professionals failed, Minshew reworked her strategy, built a team of people who shared her vision and rebranded into the successful organization that The Muse is today. Persistence is key, and a couple of mistakes shouldn’t hold anyone back.
Source: The Muse
2. Beat the system
One of the things that millennials do best is break the mold and look outside the box. Just because something has been done a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s the best option out there, so it makes sense to look for new solutions.
And it clearly works! Just look at Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of the peer-to-peer room and home rental giant Airbnb. Nathan and his friends, also successful millennials, took the way people travel and imagined a cheaper version that allows tourists to be a part of the local culture, even if only for a night.
Even their site invites people to book “homes and experiences”. It’s a step forward from numbered hotel rooms that look the same from one city to the next.
3. Give a little extra
One of the main messages millennials are eager to convey is that money isn’t front and center at their business ventures. Just like with Airbnb, where spending less money is an added bonus to learning more about an unfamiliar culture and possibly making life-long friendships, this principle transfers to different industries as well.
People are looking for something more, something different. That’s why Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger’s Lemonade Insurance has so much traction right now – they’re using modern technologies and innovations to change the industry, but at the same time they’re giving people an option to give back to their community. They take a flat fee, pay claims, and give back what’s left to causes people can choose themselves.
4. It’s Ok to Be an Island. For a While.
Millennial entrepreneurs show that it’s enough to have an idea and rely only on your own skills to get it off the ground. For example, Peter Cashmore started as a tech blogger working from his bedroom in Scotland, and now his blog has grown into Mashable, a global media giant that has millions of readers all over the world.
The trick is to know when and how to expand. Sometimes it means hiring more staff. Sometimes – giving way to someone who can help manage everything without losing track of your message.
Case in point, Susan Gregg Koger started ModCloth from her dorm room, and back then her boyfriend designed the page. Since the very beginning, ModCloth has been all about individuality as opposed to the mass-produced fashion.
Now that ModCloth is owned by Walmart, it has found a way to continue sending this message. Just last year ModCloth shut down on Black Friday, one of the biggest sales day in the USA, gave all their employees a day off and used their social networks to speak about charities.
6. Give Your Competition a Leg Up
The stereotypical dream of a business owner used to be pretty straightforward – think of an idea, get it up and running, be better than your competition, earn piles of money, retire to a private island, enjoy life. But that’s not how millennial entrepreneurs see their future. Once successful, they are eager to share their wisdom and help others grow.
Gerard Adams is a serial entrepreneur, who has been on the ground floor of many successful start-ups. His latest business endeavor, Fownders, targets entrepreneurs and helps them learn how to grow their own business. Adams is basically creating a competition for himself.
But millennials prove that competition is something to be celebrated since it drives progress and leads to better ideas in the industry.
6. Don’t Fall into Your Own Trap
If there’s one thing clear about millennial entrepreneurs, it’s that technology has given them more tools than ever. Some of the biggest enterprises today are tech-based and built by millennials. However, all the tech development may have created the most distracted generation to date.
In order to be successful, millennial entrepreneurs have to set themselves apart from their distracted peers.
This means using technology to take advantage of its global possibilities. For the users of Inktale, a print-on-demand marketplace, technological developments are at the basis of their endeavors.
The users do what they like best – create designs – but leave the technical side of setting up a store, making product mockups, handling orders and customer service to Inktale. So, someone who lives in Italy can create a phone case with a picture they took in Australia, and this product will be bought on Inktale by someone in the US. And voilà! Technological progress serves as the driving force, not a distraction.
7. Keep Your Options Open
Movies tend to show the business world in black and white – leave your job, follow your dream, jump into the deep end, etc.
But millennial entrepreneurs think that being cautious and a little skeptical of the future is completely fine.
Ryan Hoover is the founder of Product Hunt, a platform that lets users share and discover new products. For the first 6 months of Product Hunt’s existence Ryan actually still worked in his previous company, unsure that any of his ideas would take off. In 2016, it was was sold for $20 million. So a little caution can go a long way in case things don’t turn out the way you want to.
How Are You Going to Break the Entrepreneur Mold?
So, there you go – 7 habits of millennial entrepreneurs that are worth keeping in mind! And remember that succeeding in business doesn’t actually mean reinventing the wheel or taking unnecessary risks. You just have to adapt to a new environment and learn from the best!
Have questions about what it takes to be a millennial entrepreneur? Drop them in the comments below!