How millennial entrepreneurs are different

Among other findings, millennials are more likely to expand and sell a business than entrepreneurs from earlier generations

Beth Van Zandt / Muscatine Journal / AP / File
Teenager Tyler Finchum copies farm manuals at his home in rural Muscatine County, Iowa, using a homemade scanner in this May 10, 2011 file photo. Finchum is founder and president of Farm Manuals Fast, a Web-based business that provides farmers digital copies of older repair manuals for tractors, balers, combines, and other farm equipment. Today's young entrepreneurs have some different characteristics than other generations, a new study indicates.

A recent study from The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute looks at something near and dear to my heart -- Millennial Generation small business owners as compared to other generations.

Here are my thoughts on a few of their key findings:

  • Millennials are 50% more likely to expand their business compared to prior generations. This one does not surprise me. More and more of today's young entrepreneurs have studied entrepreneurship. There are also many more resources out there for them to draw upon. Part of what drives the interest in expansion is confidence. Understanding what drives successful growth makes seem more attainable. Many of our students talk about how to scale their ventures -- it seems to be part of their basic outlook on starting ventures.
  • Millennials reported they are 100% more likely to sell their business. Again, not at all surprising. Exit planning is fundamental to what they learn about entrepreneurship and what they most often hear about it in media stories. It also fits with their limited attention span -- their words, not mine. Almost all of my students admit that they probably will lose interest in a business within a few years. They seem to be born to be serial entrepreneurs.

  • Millennials are 120% more likely to be a business owner without other workplace experience. The old common wisdom was that you need to go out and work for someone for years before you strike out on your own. Not any more. We encourage our students to start ventures while in school to use as learning vehicles. Every year we see more and more young graduates walk across the stage with their diploma and a business in hand.
    • Only 8% of Millennials inherited their business from their parents. No kidding. The Baby Boomers have not saved enough to retire, so they will be needing those businesses for a long, long time!!

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