Gen X vs. Gen Y entrepreneurs
Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30CEO.com, is a digital marketing strategist at Shadow Concepts LLC. Follow him on Twitter as he urges people to start businesses they are passionate about. This is part of the kickoff to a series on social entrepreneurship. The views expressed are his own.
When it comes to starting a business there are advantages and disadvantages to taking the leap at various points during your lifetime and there are distinct differences between entrepreneurs from different generations.
Gen Y entrepreneurs, also referred to as “millennials,” are famous for their .com start-ups like Facebook and College Humor, but equally as infamous for their entitled attitudes and over-exuberance. These young entrepreneurs are fresh out of school (some because they’ve dropped out all together) and have decided to take the world by storm, with or without their parents support. For millennials there is little to lose: no mortgages, no families, and not a whole lot of obligations. Besides, if you find yourself unemployed, ski towns out west are always hiring. Try doing that when you’re 36.
The generation born after the baby boomers knows better than that. Gen X entrepreneurs aren’t looking to risk it all on a roll of the dice. Instead, their business plans are much more thought out, not just to impress investors, but also to prove to their spouses and families that dropping half of the dual-family income will work out in the long run. Entrepreneurs at this stage in their life have a lot more to lose and the opportunity cost of the salary they’ve been accustomed to will weigh heavily on their minds.
Fed up with their 9-5 job and tired of being pushed around working for someone else, Gen Xers have been saving for the opportunity to start their own company. Which means they often they have their own capital to start with and can also look for funding from friends who trust their track record. Whereas Gen Yers look to start businesses on a shoestring budget or look to their parents for start-up capital.
Millennials aren’t concerned with their non-existent track records, either, which is part of the reason why they catch flack for being a bit arrogant. They are sick of their elders saying: “You can’t possibly know business if you’re under 30.”
Author and founder of RainmakerThinking, Bruce Tulgan, put the generational divide into perspective:
Here’s the short story about Generation Y: If you liked Generation X, you’re going to love Generation Y, because they’re like Generation X on fast forward with self-esteem on steroids. And they’re going to be the highest performing workforce in the history of the world. These entrepreneurs run on pure passion. They’ve learned a lot from their parents and have always been told they could do anything in the world.
Furthermore, millennials have a much easier time finding mentors and help for their small businesses. Colleges and universities have entrepreneurship programs or access to incubators and organizations like the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization. And baby boomer business leaders love to extend a helping hand to young people. Gen Xers have the work experience, have taken time to learn a trade or an industry and have working relationships with people who will be able to accelerate their progress. One of the best ways to find a business idea is to find a new niche in an industry you’ve been working in for years.
Regardless of your experience level or generation, it will be entrepreneurs that will lead us out of the recession. Who would you bet on: Gen X or Gen Y?