By A.J. MacQuarrie
For some bosses, millennial employees are a maddening source of frustrations over their stereotypical habits and unconventional approaches to workplace expectations. But what drives those traditional bosses crazy is also what can make millennials great bosses of themselves as entrepreneurs, creating their own business opportunities.
I’m one of those millennial entrepreneurs, a 28-year-old who found my place in business after getting great training by one of the world’s biggest companies. It took my business just a year to hit its first million from a $20,000 investment. I came up with a novel vending machine idea called KarmaBox, which sells healthy snacks and beverages. The main driving force behind this was when I gained a bit of weight in college – I lived off vending machines and all the food was junk. I then got healthy and a “hey, why aren’t healthy snacks more convenient” light bulb went off in my head that led to the birth of my business.
If you are creative, hardworking and fearless, you are the perfect entrepreneurial candidate. Naysayers have plenty of complaints when it comes to us. But let’s decide to turn those into positives and why they make for a great entrepreneur, if not always the perfect corporate employee:
- We have a sense of entitlement. Yes, we may have participation trophies just for showing up at youth soccer or karate class as kids, no matter how bad we or our team might be. But that also built a sense of confidence, optimism and willingness to try even unlikely things, and an unshakable belief that we’re good enough to make it happen. Can you imagine a better mindset for someone testing the uncharted waters of entrepreneurial creation?
- We’re glued to our phones. Well, yeah, but that also means we’re more comfortable with all kinds of new technologies, mobile and otherwise, adopting them fearlessly and then adapting them quickly for new uses. That openness means we’re more likely to see the opportunities in new technologies, and less bound to old business models and old ways of doing things. Every entrepreneur finds opportunity in overlooked or misused existing resources, and the unexpected potential created by new technologies. Technology, and being unafraid to use it, also gives us the opportunity to implement lean business models that otherwise wouldn’t be available.
- We don’t respect our elders. This isn’t quite true. Unlike baby boomers who spent their youth rebelling from everything their parents represented, we millennials are close friends with our parents and have many older friends. We even like their music. But it also means we don’t want to wait in line for our shot at success 10 or 20 years from now, trudging up some slow-moving corporate ladder. We want to make things happen now, controlling our own destiny, and heading out to create our own opportunities. That’s core to the entrepreneurial spirit.
- We don’t respect corporate hierarchies. Yes, that sometimes means the 24-year-old assistant thinks nothing of emailing the CEO with suggestions about how to run the company better. It also means we’re not interested in silos and are capable of thinking of the bigger picture. After years of group projects in school, we’re far more collaborative and solution-oriented. And in the small teams that characterize startups, that’s a vital mindset. Everyone wears just about every hat in the closet at a small company. Entrepreneurs need to be able to do all the things that need to get done, with little concern about who “owns” what role.
- We’re lazy. What that really means is we look for other, more efficient ways to get things done, instead of relying automatically on the same old processes that don’t always make sense in a fast-changing economy and technological landscape. It means leveraging new tools and new ways of thinking to get to a better, different place. Every entrepreneur needs to know how to do more with less.
- We’re job hoppers. To some extent, this is less about millennials than it is about the changing job environment we faced coming out of college. Fewer companies are investing in employees and giving them reasons to be loyal. Given that most millennials became adults in the middle of a long, brutal recession or its slow-growth recovery, for many, our best opportunities for success came from the ones we created for ourselves.
The reason so many young millennials have dived into entrepreneurial opportunities is they’re smart enough to know they need to find the best setting for their talents and mindset, and brave enough to seek it out. And for would-be entrepreneurs, that’s a combination that’s tough to beat.