Make no mistake that Gen-Y is the entrepreneurial generation, but we’ve also been called “Generational Jobless” by The Wall Street Journal. The unemployment rate for Gen-Y is nearly double that of older demographics, which is why some young people are pursuing careers as business owners instead of corporate employees. Young people want freedom, flexibility and to have an impact on society in one form or another. Although a corporate job can be a great training ground for young people to learn new skills, make connections and gain credibility in their field, Gen-Y would rather take a risk than submit another resume. In fact, a new survey by the Kauffman Foundation reports that 54 percent of the nation’s millennials either want to start a business, or have already started one.
This generation is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and more and more schools, such as Stanford, are teaching the topic in classrooms. The government should be happy because small businesses create jobs for the economy. Entrepreneurship is one of the keys to getting this economy back on track and high growth startups can offset enterprise hiring freezes. Also, startups can help grow entire industries that didn’t exist before. For instance, Facebook’s ecosystem has helped Zynga become billion dollar company in less than two years.
There are still many challenges for young entrepreneurs, such as getting bank loans, venture capital money, and the lack of knowledge required to run a small business. This is why only 8 percent of them actually have a business right now. The economy has led them to the entrepreneurship path but has also been an obstacle. Only a small percentage of young people ever get funding because venture capitalists are looking for a product that already has a fan base and revenue attached to it. No one wants to invest in an unknown and a product that hasn’t been selling. Clearly the government is going to have to find new ways to support these companies if we ever want to revive the economy.
Many young entrepreneurs have relied on the Internet to build their businesses. The problem is that just having a website isn’t going to guarantee a successful business since everyone can have one. Blogs and social network profiles may help you when you start from scratch, but it’s the persistence, networking and creative ideas that will make your business really take off. Young people need to find mentors who can help them at different phases of entrepreneurship. There are also more free resources now to help young people build companies, including blogs written by entrepreneurs. The Internet has given us access to people and information like never before.
Do you think Gen-Y’s entrepreneurial spirit can revive the economy? Well, they are certainly willing to take the plunge and what’s the worst that can happen anyways? They fail and then learn from their mistakes to become better entrepreneurs later. Gen-Y truly has a unique opportunity now to make a difference but the government and successful business owners should start supporting them more. Only then will this generation have a chance of having a future!
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine. He has worked with companies such as Google, Time Warner, Symantec, IBM, EMC, and CitiGroup.