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Millennials: forget the buzzword, delve deeper

Millennial entrepreneurs are a resourceful and ambitious bunch with a majority aspiring to launch multiple businesses. However, they’re also driven by a belief in social good and the desire for work-life balance. These characteristics were revealed in a new report from Sage, which challenges generalisations about the youngest generation of business people.  

Sage’s Walk with Me report examines the findings of a study of 7,400 millenial entrepreneurs from across the world including 500 Australian respondents. Key findings about the next generation of entrepreneurs in Australia include:

  • 60% aspire to start more than one business during their lifetime.
  • While reliance on technology is high, 49% believe they could have run their businesses with technologies from 20 years ago.
  • 65% prioritise life over work and the vast majority sacrifice profits over their own values and ethics.
  • Reducing the amount of hours they spend working and retiring early is a key focus for 70%.
  • Over 70% are driven by doing social good.

Diverse personalities

The study also found that millennial entrepreneurs have diverse traits, which align them with five workplace personality types:

  • The Principled Planners: extremely methodical in their approach to work, they enjoy carefully planning for success. With an ambitious streak, they never take anything at face value and always ask a lot of questions.
  • The Driven Techies: love their work and can’t bear the thought of sitting around twiddling their thumbs, they trust in the power and efficiency of innovative technology to keep them one step ahead of the competition. They have a strong belief in its ability to accurately target their existing and future customers.
  • The Instinctive Explorers: cavalier, they love the unknown, as well as exploring uncharted territory. They trust their gut instincts and stick to their guns. A modern image is extremely important to them, as is leaving a legacy behind to be remembered by.
  • The Real Worlders: resourceful, but likely to say they rely on technology in order to succeed. When it comes to their approach to work and making decisions, they tend to alternate between going on gut instinct and taking a more methodical approach.
  • The Thrill-Seekers: easily bored and always on the lookout for the next challenge, they couldn’t care less about appearances. They work best around others and believe that making a social impact is overrated.

Heroes of the economy

According to Kriti Sharma, Director, Product Management, Mobile, Sage, millennial entrepreneurs have a huge role to play in the start-up economy and it’s critical that businesses understand what drives them.

“As a millennial entrepreneur myself, I know first-hand that this business group are shaking things up,” she said.

“We’re rejecting established patterns of working and making technology work for us. We see business through a new lens. We’re willing to work hard, but want flexibility in how, when and with whom we do business.”

“Millenials are the next generation of business builders, the heroes of the economy, and understanding what makes them tick now stands us all in good stead for the future. That’s true of the people that want to do business with them, buy from them, hire them or create policy that helps them to grow.’

Not a blanket group

Dynamic Business had the opportunity to put questions to Sharma, who said it was time for businesses to stop treating millennials as a buzzword and start engaging with the next generation of business leaders.

Q: What myths does the Walk With Me report dispel about millennials?

“This study shows that we have to stop thinking of ‘millennials’ as one blanket group – I think employers, especially large corporates, are guilty of this – how many thinkpieces have you seen saying ‘this is how to hire a millennial’?!

“Millennials just means people aged between 18 and 34 – a 16 year age gap. And don’t forget variation from country to country around the world.

“In business, the term millennial has become a real buzzword that’s bandied around without anyone taking time to work out exactly who they’re referring to. Our study shows the sheer variety of personalities, likes, dislikes, approaches to work etc., that make up the millennial generation.

“It should go without saying that to get the most out of millennials in business, businesses will need to adapt to support them as individuals, rather than grouping them together as one – but we’re not seeing this yet.”

Q: What do millennials bring to the table that older generations don’t – and vice versa?

“An obvious one is that millennials are the first generation of digital natives – they bring a natural ability with technology that doesn’t require much training or teaching. We all went to school with computers; we were taught off of smartboards rather than chalk boards.

“In terms of what older generations can bring – something I’ve learnt from people I’ve worked with is the importance of being able to ask questions. I think that’s especially true for young people who have just come out of the education system – where we’re bombarded with vast quantities of information and we can leave that with the idea that intelligence is about what you know, rather than about not being afraid to admit what you don’t know, and ask.

“As an entrepreneur, the ability to ask questions and not be afraid to be wrong is so necessary – but also to get advice from actual human beings rather than just googling things all the time.”

Q: Millennials entrepreneurs rely on technology but nearly half believe they could survive without the latest inventions – does this speak to their confidence?

“What’s great about this research is that the results varied so much from country to country – Aussie entrepreneurs definitely have their own vibe.

“That technology stat fits with the fact that of our five personas, the ‘Instinctive Explorer’ personality type was more common in Australia – and these entrepreneurs are especially resourceful and rely on their own gut instinct, so in that sense the latest tech isn’t a major priority for them.

“So yes, it’s a question of confidence – but I’d always advise people to stay alert to new trends and products entering the market – otherwise you’ll never know about that bot that’s going to double your team’s productivity and in turn drive up your profits.”

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James Harkness

James Harkness

James Harnkess previous editor at Dynamic Business

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