Millennials get a bad rap. The children of Baby Boomers, the generation born between the mid-80’s and early 90’s is accused by its critics of being collectively entitled, narcissistic and lazy.
But despite their obsession with lattes and avocado toast (kidding!), the fact is that millennials are reshaping our workforce. They’ve surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation by population and are the most educated generation in American history. By 2025, they’ll make up three quarters of the global work force.
As savvy entrepreneurs, then, it’d serve us well to pay attention to this large and powerful demographic. Here are seven business lessons millennials can teach us.
The average millennial is on the move. Unlike his parents, who were likely to spend multiple decades with a single company, a millennial worker doesn’t feel bound to his employer in the same way.
Having come of age during the greatest recession in modern history (and with the promise of a lucrative pension all but nonexistent) the millennial worker has learned to embrace change, always seeking out a better, more advantageous opportunity.
A good entrepreneur should operate the same way, embracing and adapting to shifts in the market, which are happening with greater speed than ever before.
Challenge The Status Quo
76% of millennials believe they could teach their boss a thing or two about how to get the job done. Perhaps that explains why such a large number of them have opted not to have a boss at all—46% say they plan to start a business or would like to start one in the next five years.
This willingness to challenge the establishment no doubt contributes to the “entitled” perception of Generation Y, but in fact, it’s the way all revolutionary businesses began.
Henry Ford challenged the idea that humans must rely on horses. Thomas Edison felt certain that electric lightbulbs were destined to be a fixture in every home. Steve Jobs took a device once used largely by scientists and mathematicians and made it accessible to the average American.
The desire and the grit to disrupt the status quo are essential for entrepreneurs who truly want to make an impact.
Value Work-Life Balance
Flexibility and work-life balance are two major factors in career choice for millennials. If they can’t find them at one job, they’ll soon look for another (or create their own).
It’s well documented that Americans as whole are doing work-life balance all wrong. We leave hundreds of millions of unused vacation days on the table every year, at a detriment to our own hobbies, happiness and mental health.
We could learn from millennials’ attention to work-life balance, which relieves stress, promotes productivity and keeps us healthy.
Opt For Experiences
More than three quarters of millennials would rather spend money on a desirable experience than buy a physical product. They value memories: creating them, experiencing them and documenting them.
Any smart business owner knows consumers are the same way. It’s the way the customer feels about your brand that drives them to make a purchase, not the statistics or facts you show them about why they should buy.
When you think about your customer, think in terms of experiences, from the look and feel of your website to the design of your store to your customer service policy. What kind of memory does it create for the buyer?
Pursue The Greater Good
Millennials crave meaning, whether in relationships with friends or interactions with companies. They also reject “The Man”, opting to work for smaller companies with fewer employees than their older counterparts.
These characteristics have contributed to an exciting and promising new business trend: social entrepreneurship. From poverty to conservation to STEM funding, the world is filled with problems, and social entrepreneurship aims to use commerce to solve them.
As business owners, we can add meaning to our entrepreneurial pursuits by incorporating elements of social entrepreneurship into our own business models. Partnering with a charity, donating man-hours and participating in revenue-sharing arrangements are all innovative ways to improve the world while running your company.
Take Advantage Of Technology
If there’s one stereotype that’s almost unequivocally true, it’s that millennials are the connected generation. With a smartphone in one hand and a VR headset in the other, they know the power of technology and how to use it to make life easier and better.
We, too, can take advantage of technology to improve our businesses, streamline operations and control costs. If there’s a faster, easier way to do something using technology, by all means we should do it.
Technology’s greatest benefit for business owners? Giving us more of our most valuable resource: time. We talk more about taking back your time (both professionally and personally speaking) using technology in this post.
That’s busy-ness, not business!
Chronic busy-ness is bad for your brain, causing decision fatigue and diminished mental capabilities. As we mentioned earlier, millennials tend to reject doing tasks just for the sake of doing them, instead craving meaning behind the items on their to-do list.
By focusing more of our energy on those projects that truly bring us value while rejecting those that are time-fillers, we’ll feel more fulfillment from our work.
What are some traditionally “millennial” qualities that you value? Leave a comment and tell us.
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