The rise of the next-gen entrepreneurs

Gen Z, career,

Young Australians have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic with a heightened sense of entrepreneurial zeal, with two-thirds running or intending to start their own business or side-hustle.

New research into the career aspirations of Australia’s 18-to-24-year-olds has revealed one in eight are already in business for themselves, while one in four would rather work for themselves than be in traditional employment.

The research comes after a turbulent period for young Australians, who were in the formative years of their careers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and were disproportionately impacted by job losses.

The pandemic may have a silver lining

Despite the turbulence of the past few years, Gen Z has been emboldened to turn their passions into small business, with one in five planning to start a business or side-hustle in the next 12 months.

Of these new ventures, online businesses are the most popular, with retail and eCommerce making up 18 per cent of the current businesses being started, followed by professional services (nine per cent) such as marketing, design and photography.

Financial crises have historically created great opportunities for budding entrepreneurs with WhatsApp, Airbnb, Disney and General Electric among the start-up success stories emerging out of downturns.

In Australia, new business activity too is booming as Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 365,000 new businesses traded in 2020-21, an 8.6 per cent rise on the previous year.

Not only has the pandemic been a disruptive force, the barriers to entry for starting a new business are now lower, especially for small business owners with non-tech skills.

Start-ups today are able to build websites quickly and affordably, embed with a variety of eCommerce platforms to help drive online sales and market directly to customers over social media.

Young Australians pursue passion over pay

While it’s much easier today for young people to take a chance and launch a small business, GoDaddy’s research also uncovered that the pandemic has had a transformational impact on how young Aussies view their careers.

Half of these young Australians surveyed said the pandemic forced them to change career or education plans, while 57 per cent said their career priorities were no longer the same.

Where pay and job security may have been priorities for older generations of Australians, a third of young Australians say passion is today the most important factor in choosing a career.

Next came work/life balance (15 per cent), money, or a regular secure income (14 per cent), mental health (10 per cent) and flexibility (six per cent).

Asked to nominate their top three most important factors in choosing a career, 58 per cent said passion and work/life balance while only 19 per cent overall chose security of employment.

Going their own way

Generation Z also feels very positive towards the idea of small-business ownership.

Almost three quarters said they felt that running their own business would mean they could better pursue their other passions like spending time with family and friends, travelling and hobbies than if they were working in traditional employment.

Gen Z feel so strongly about the importance of passion in their careers that three quarters were willing to take a pay cut to run a business doing something they were genuinely passionate about.

Two-thirds said they would take a pay cut of between 10 and 30 per cent to run a passion project while one in seven would sacrifice more than 30 per cent of their salary.

With so much upheaval occurring at the foundational stage of their careers, it’s clear the pandemic has the potential to bring generational change for this group of young Australians, inspiring them to follow their dreams and nurture their entrepreneurial spirit.