While some young people are happy working for others, seventy-five percent of top-earning Millennials wish to work for themselves someday. 

But despite that common goal, Millennials are actually less likely to be entrepreneurs than previous generations. A 2016 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration revealed that fewer than 4 percent of 30-year-olds are actively in entrepreneurship compared to the 5.4 percent of Generation Xers and 6.7 percent of baby boomers at the same age. 

More recently, John Lettieri, EIG president, testified to Congress that “Millennials were on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in recent history,” and The Atlantic shows how the lack of savings, foreign competition and the looming threat of another economic downturn make it harder for this cohort to become self-starters when it comes to the  business world.

For Millennial entrepreneurs who want to successfully run their own companies, it's worth considering these three lessons. 

1. Remain Dedicated on the Road to Success

Many Millennials say they want to start a business, but research reveals that entrepreneurial success rates are low. Today, anyone can find entrepreneurial support available in the form of incubators and business resources. As a result, many aspiring entrepreneurs make the mistake of attempting to score a slam dunk on their first try. However, Robert Osborne of London think tank, the Center for Entrepreneurs, suggests, “There is still a gap between the ambition of what the Millennial generation actually have and those that go on to start a business.”

While many Millennials hold student debt and minimal cash flow, the important thing is to dedicate yourself to the vision you have for your company. Tiffany Pham, Mogul CEO, had trouble investing in her own vision. However, Pham says investing her time in her goal and mission, despite its challenges, allowed her to excel. 

Pham says, “If I didn’t have those millions of dollars to hire a team of engineers then how could I make a difference myself? Maybe I could just teach myself how to code and build this platform myself?” Pham embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that most Millennials want to emulate. Pham invests in what’s really important to the world right now, so that every dollar goes into Mogul. As a result, Mogul rapidly grew into a successful social enterprise providing women in 196 countries and 30,470 cities with information access, economic and educational opportunities.

2. Use Existing Innovations to Create Solutions

Millennials are often seen as the “innovation generation” and successful entrepreneurs in this age group know how to identify where the world is headed and use modern discoveries to find solutions to the problems that the world faces. But looking too far into the future has become a source of business lethargy amongst Millennials, too. 

In fact, entrepreneurial success doesn’t necessarily lie within inventing new tools. It can be just as effective -- if not more so -- to develop a product or service that uses preexisting technologies in a new way. Creating the best music app for a leading VR headset could open more doors for you than trying to market another VR headset.

FLO is a great example. In the early 2000s, the automobile industry transitioned the conversation back to electric cars and hybrids, but as most big brands developed into manufacturing, FLO launched into making home and commercial electric car chargers and EV charging points, making it more accessible while staying at the forefront of innovation. 

Sometimes, working with the resources and tools already available to you can make the entrepreneurial process less daunting, more tangible, and ultimately, more profitable.

3. Remember: Entrepreneurial Success Should Focus on Empowering Others

Business success shouldn’t center around the CEO at the top of the pyramid. But emerging entrepreneurs sometimes get caught up with the end result of power or money, rather than remembering their inner motivations as an essential preliminary to reaching success. 

Remember: entrepreneurship isn’t about reaping rewards for yourself, and it’s not about being an entirely self-made business leader. Instead it’s about finding opportunities to solve big problems -- and solving the biggest problems requires strategic teamwork, partnerships and affiliations.

Half of Millennials surveyed in the Virtuali and Workplace Trends report agree that leadership is defined by how you empower others, rather than what you take for yourself. It’s no coincidence that flat leadership structures are amongst the leadership trends that Millennial workers have helped to promote in today’s startups.

Nick Pena, an Instagram influencer and founder of The Teaching Academy, believes that sharing information with and empowering others was the key to his success. Pena says, “Never make entrepreneurship all about you or you would not last very long.”

Forbes reinforces the idea that effective leaders seek information from their team and the people completing the everyday research which helps the business grow. Without information from employees and the support of partnerships, leaders operate blindly. 

While fewer Millennials might be entering the entrepreneurial scene, 91 percent of Millennial respondents in The Millennial Leadership Study expressed a desire to lead in the future. By staying dedicated to your business vision, utilizing existing innovations and focusing on teamwork, you can build a more realistic and hopeful foundation with which to start your company and solve the world’s biggest challenges.

About the Author(s)

 Jake   Croman

Jake Croman is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and college student who currently attends the University of Michigan. Jake Croman's networking experience and logistical know-how extends to his work fundraising on behalf of charitable organizations such as St Judes Children's Hospital and the Eddie Croman Foundation.

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Student University of Michigan
3 Essential Business Lessons for Millennial Entrepreneurs