`By Raj Dhonota
When we think of entrepreneurs we envision individuals looking to make their mark on the world. Designing, planning and starting a business and rising from the ground up.
Whilst entrepreneurs have been around for some time the term millennial generation, and subsequently millennial entrepreneur, was recently coined to describe people who were brought up using digital technology. This naturally had a profound impact on the lives of the generation and led to a rather novel skillset. This skillset accompanied with a rose-coloured view of the business world and sheer determination are the basis for any millennial entrepreneur, or millennipreneurs, as they are commonly referred to.
Unsurprisingly there is a difference between business leaders of previous generations and the millennipreneurs who have forged a new route on the well-trodden path. Whilst there are certain skills younger professionals may have learnt from previous entrepreneurs, which are crucial to running a business such as communication, sales, strategy and finance to name but a few, the method of which these are now carried out has itself changed.
Growing up with this thing called entrepreneur
An ever-increasing number of millennials are referring to themselves as an entrepreneur, with more individuals opting for this term. But why is this the case? This could be due to many reasons, for instance many parents, who were the products of the baby boom generation, also ran successful businesses, and the younger generation aspire to be like them. Additionally, millennials have also grown up with icons such as Mark Zuckerberg who created a social media sensation whilst only in college and Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, this made the entrepreneur character appear more human-like and relatable.
A generation of digitally creative people
The main difference between the two generations of entrepreneurs is age, as many professionals nowadays are starting their business at a much earlier stage in their lives. This is also universal, if you head to Israel, for example, you will soon notice small start-up bars and restaurants run by recent graduates with, more interestingly, no previous bar or managerial experience.
This trend in Israel is evidence of another trait which is typically pinned to millennials, eagerness. Gone are the days of individuals slowly rising through the ranks of the corporate machine. Millennipreneurs have this perception of ‘why wait’, and armed with an idea, they more often than not just go for it.
Another characteristic of the younger business owner is boredom. Technology has created a generation of impatient people who often get bored quickly, the most annoying online symbol is arguably the buffering sign and why buffer through your life? This impatience amongst millennials consequently breeds ideas and these ideas often lead to a start-up. Granted entrepreneurs have historically had a nature of wanting to make a difference, but it is this want, alongside the above-mentioned traits, which make the millennial entrepreneur so young when starting their business.
Technology has also led to a sense of independence, with individuals wanting to have more control over their fate and work for themselves. Again, technological developments have aided this, working for yourself is now entirely possible and as we now have a roaming office tucked away nicely in our bag working remotely is easy. The constant development in technology has had another crucial impact on the millennial entrepreneur – they’re now digital maestros. Growing up on technology and, perhaps most importantly, social media has led to these skills becoming second nature, and fortunately these platforms have become ideal for marketing strategies for any business, big or small.
The business environment
Many view the economy crash of 2008 as another contributing factor adding to the increasing entrepreneurial snowball. Millennials found themselves out of a job as a result of the crash and so used innovation, primarily with the help of the internet and dotcom bubble to create one instead, This is yet another example of the millennial resilience which ultimately makes millennials such good entrepreneurs.
As part of the business environment, we have witnessed a rise in female business leaders. The generational success of women is not only inspiring for young people but also shows what kind of impact millennial women can have on society.
I currently work with a vast portfolio of ventures, which includes start-ups, and witness the millennial entrepreneur daily. The sheer volume of pitches I listen to is testament to the growing entrepreneurial spirit. The platform UniJobApp is a good example of an innovative company run by millennipreneurs. A start-up run by two students, it aims to help with the common issue faced by students and recent graduates when looking for a job. Co-founders Zane Powell and Lewis Pour are students themselves and can relate to this common need – a similar age to the potential users, they utilise this fact and use social media effectively. Fundamentally, they have the skillset which sets millennials apart and makes them ideally suited to being entrepreneurs. They are digital whizzes with sky-high aspirations and excellent rag-to-riches role models.
What does this mean for the future
Whilst it is possible to describe the millennial generation as impatient, idealistic, eager for control and easily jaded, it is these traits -alongside the traditional characteristics of an entrepreneur and digital proficiency, which makes them so successful. They are experts in making the previously impossible, possible. After all, as a millennipreneur would say, why not?
Raj, a season one contestant on The Apprentice, is a prolific investor, working mainly with pre-seed companies in the tech space. On top of managing his investment portfolio he also runs his own business, Igniva, a provider of web software development solutions. Raj currently has 50 investments to date.