Startup Lessons from the Millennial Crowd
Millennials – not only are they addicted to their smartphones and social media, but they are becoming a brand new generation of entrepreneurs too. With the online business world constantly changing, as a business owner, it can sometimes feel hard to keep up with the latest technological developments. Luckily for the millennial generation, they are one step ahead of the game.
If you’re a startup owner, you need to take note of the things millennials can teach us about business. After all, they could be your biggest target audience. (According to a survey by MTV, there are 80 million millennials in America, compared to 76 million baby boomers). Millennials are clever too: over 63% of millennials have a Bachelor’s Degree and their most common job skills include marketing and social media.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the seven business lessons we need to learn from millennials in order to help your startup grow.
Embrace Flexible Work
Millennials love flexible working – the traditional nine to five just doesn’t cut it with them. According to PWC’s millennial study, this generation values greater flexibility in their working life, which means they don’t want to spend a fixed number of hours working every day.
They understand the importance of a good work-life balance and do things that they enjoy alongside their careers.
With that in mind, as a startup owner, you should remember that there is certainly more to life than working all hours of the day. Although this can be easier said than done in the early days of your business, it is important to give yourself some well-deserved downtime – whether that means ensuring you always have a lunch break or having a certain number of evenings each week where you switch off and pursue a hobby instead.
Keep Up to date with the Market
As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever, and millennials know this better than most. Growing up in the most recent recession, millennials have had to learn to adapt to market changes in order to be successful – and they’ve done it fast too. They are not scared of change, and neither should you be.
To be the owner of a successful startup, you need to be resilient and face every challenge that comes your way. Whether that’s a contract falling through or a product launch being less successful than you had hoped, you need to stand up and overcome every obstacle.
As millennial entrepreneurs know, a more advantageous and profitable opportunity is usually just around the corner – you just have to hold your nerve and stay positive.
If there’s one thing that millennial entrepreneurs are especially good at, it’s embracing technology and using it to their advantage. Instead of spending months building a custom dashboard, bootstrapping millennials are more likely to purchase off-the-shelf software and make do with that until they have built up enough cash flow.
For example, did you know that there is a range of e-commerce and web content management platforms out there like Shopify which can make managing your online presence a breeze? You’ve also got the option to make a website through WordPress in a matter of hours.
Although technology often means change and new ways of working, in the long run, it is likely that it will save you time and money – which can only be a good thing. Migrating off an old legacy system or web platform may take a few weeks, but then you will be left with a technological framework that’s sustainable.
Embrace Social Entrepreneurship
Millennials are driven by the idea that their actions could help to benefit the world. Forget being driven by money, for them, it’s all about the chance for them to make a difference. For example, did you know that 88% of millennial females and 82% of millennial males think that it’s important to do work that gives back to the community? And that 84% made a charitable donation in 2014 alone?
As a startup entrepreneur, this is a key area where you can learn from the experience of millennials. Why not think about donating some of your time to help out with a local charity. Not only will they be doing something good, but the self-satisfaction they feel could lead to improved motivation. Which in turn can create a much happier and more productive workforce?
Take Advantage of Trends
While trends can sometimes feel like fads, it’s important that as a startup owner you don’t ignore them. Granted, it’s likely that some trends might not be a good fit for your business. That doesn’t mean that you should completely dismiss them without delving a little deeper first.
In the world of millennials, trends are there to be taken advantage of – especially when they are hot. For them, it’s all about maximizing an opportunity, whether it’s short-lived or not.
Take the example of Erik Finman. While many people questioned the potential of the online currency Bitcoin, he started buying them at the age of 12. You might be surprised to learn that Erik was first able to turn $1000 into $100,000. A pretty impressive outcome for someone of his age. As a result, Erik was able to drop out of high school at 15 and at 18 was a millionaire. We wonder how many baby boomers share the same success story?
Trends should also inform your startup’s branding. Look at your start up’s visual branding, and make sure that it’s trendy enough — embrace today’s visual culture in your logo.
Utilize the Marketing Power of Social Media
Driven by the fact that millennials were the first generation to use smartphones and grow up in the ever-changing digital world, 81% of millennials check social media platforms like Twitter once a day. The most popular platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat offer businesses the chance to set up profiles for free. While their advertising options are very cost effective. In addition, it’s possible to run ads that are extremely targeted. This is an important factor when it comes to achieving a good ROI on tight marketing budgets.
For your startup, you should definitely incorporate the use of social media into your overall marketing mix. It provides a great opportunity to engage with your customers on a personal level and build a relationship with them.
In addition, you can also create a following of loyal brand ambassadors. Working with key social media influencers you can give your business the opportunity to grow. It can also help in global exposure.
Don’t be afraid to do things differently
Millennials certainly aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and go against the norm. Not all of them want to follow the example of their baby boomer parents and join the establishment for example – in fact, 46% say they would like to start their own business one day, rather than work for the same company forever.
This ability to do things differently is an essential skill when it comes to making an impact as an entrepreneur. It’s all about looking at the bigger picture and not staying in the same place for too long. For example, instead of trying to improve a product that already exists, why not create something brand new instead? There will be less competition. By taking a risk and staying ahead of the game, you’re far more likely to succeed.
Are you the owner of a startup? Whether you own a store or a high street operation, we’d love to know your experience of working with millennials. What business lessons have you learned and how have they helped your company? Join in the conversation by leaving us a comment below.
About the Author
Victoria Greene: Brand Writer
I love working with a variety of e-commerce brands and businesses, as well as running my own e-commerce stores. Running my own startup has taught me plenty about time management and audience engagement.