A lot of executives have noticed that the workplace is being flooded by a new generation of workers, and they are questioning who will be the winners, and who will be the losers. In reality, Gen-Y is here, and they are already inheriting our businesses, so let's figure out how to make them winners, or we will all be losers.
By definition, Gen-Y is the generation born between 1977 and 1995 (synonymous with Millennials). There are about 80 million of them, and nearly two-thirds of them are already in the work place as entrepreneurs or with jobs. They will inevitably be taking over after Gen-X from the Baby Boomers, who are now running most companies, but pushing 60.
In fact, according to new data from a recent j2 Global survey, Gen-Y is undergoing a significant career shift today, trending away from applying for jobs and toward launching businesses of their own. As the most connected and technologically equipped generation in human history, Gen-Y entrepreneurs are using today's tools of communication, collaboration and mobility to build startups with little or no startup capital and few employees.
According to a recent Gallup® poll, fewer Americans aged 18 to 29 worked full time for an employer in June 2013 (43.6%) than did so in June 2012 (47.0%). More than half of Gen-Y (54%) have started their own business or have the desire to start one as found in a recent report by the Kauffman Foundation.
This ability to start a business with cost-effective (and sometimes even free) cloud-based and mobile tools, and the benefits of working wherever, whenever they want - combined with a youthful drive and energy -explains why the overwhelming majority (94 percent) of Gen-Y entrepreneurs are very optimistic for their businesses' growth for the rest of 2013.
This same j2 Global Survey also offers the following tips how to improve your chances of success as an Gen-Y entrepreneur, or even as a young professional working for a larger organization:
- Don't let student loans rain on your parade. The federal government's Student Startup Plan allows Gen-Y entrepreneurs to defer their loans or lower their interest rates to help them jumpstart their business, with an Income-Based Repayment Plan to make Federal student loan repayment more manageable.
- Don't let the lack of experience bring you down. The successes of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Tumblr's David Karp show that experience is not always a key factor for success. Resources abound on the web to help Gen-Y business owners learn from others and become long-lasting entrepreneurs.
- Lighten your load with technology. Gen-Y is learning that launching a business today takes far less cash than previous generations required. Cloud-based tools, like virtual phone solution eVoice®, let small business owners convey the image of a larger, professional enterprise for a fraction of the cost of a traditional business phone system.
- Avoid all work and no fun. Being a small business owner requires hard-work and dedication. According to a press release on a 2012 eVoice® survey, more than 40 percent of small business owners juggle at least four roles for their organization. The good news is that 60% of Gen-Y founders said they plan to take a vacation this year.
- Keep calm and carry on. The holidays will be around the corner, and for Gen-Y small business owners who are trying to capitalize the holiday hustle and bustle, it's important to keep yourself together to win your staff's respect. Explore ways to remain calm and prepare for problems that may come up.
For the rest of us, we have an opportunity to make an entire generation of 80 million people our competitive advantage early, or just wait until they take it away from us. Why not make it your strategic initiative, and a positive legacy for yourself? I'm accepting the challenge. How about you?