Secrets of Successful Millennial Business Owners

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

A 2013 Intuit Canada survey found that millennials are two-and-a-half times more likely to start their own business than older generations. Thus far, the most successful millennial entrepreneurs have proven to be very flexible-minded and innovative, ready to take advantage of whatever tools necessary to get the job done. These are the kind of attributes that any small business or budding entrepreneur can learn from. Here are three other important tips you can learn from modern success stories.

1) Find Creative Ways to Finance and Manage Cash Flow

Startup financing is one of the first major hurdles that young entrepreneurs face. Some traditional paths to starting a business, such as saving for 10 years or writing a business plan and then applying for a bank loan, can sometimes take too long or hit a wall with risk-averse financial institutions. This means successful millennial entrepreneurs have to get creative to survive the early years. For many, this involves working a second job to provide for basic needs until the business gets off of the ground or reinvesting a high percentage of business income. Indeed, many young business owners pay themselves below market wage.

Managing cash flow has always been important, but millennials entrepreneurs cling to any device, software, or routine that increases efficiency or reduces costs. These include:

  • Utilizing online accounting systems
  • Tracking potential clients and professional contacts through social media
  • Using inexpensive virtual assistants
  • Leveraging email, blogs, websites, and mobile advertising
  • Using the internet to source free solutions whenever possible

2) Blend Your Passion and Risk in the Pursuit of Profits

According to a 2016 survey of Canadian small business owners by American Express and Startup Canada, 85% of SBOs reported they were “willing to take financial risks to grow their business.” Risk-taking is an important part of entrepreneurship and innovation. Successful entrepreneurs generate profits based on their own hunches, insights, and gut feelings to reorganize resources into unique products and services, but bringing their vision to market often requires they assume personal and financial risk. This is where passion is a great asset. It takes courage to assume risk, and millennial entrepreneurs appear to harness their passion to build that courage. Almost 75% of millennial SBOs indicated they “feel married” to their business. Approximately 17% started their business to gain financial independence as opposed to nearly twice as many, at 30%, who said they started their business in pursuit of their passion.

3) Engage Consumers Emotionally and Morally

More than any other generation, millennials understand that price isn’t everything. Sure, consumers want to save money and will be frugal much of the time, but the marketplace is also defined by its global perspective and social awareness.

Even when millennial entrepreneurs can’t compete with the economies of scale or brand awareness of more established competitors, they can find an edge in emotional and moral marketing. This might mean environmental awareness, equality in the workplace, kindness toward the poor, anti-animal cruelty, or another worthy cause.

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