Millennial business owners determined to go their own way

“Compared to older generations, millennial business owners quickly adopt new technologies and integrate them into their business operations.”

Despite growing up in a recession, millennials aren’t afraid of building a business in suffering economy – global or local – and benchmark success by the quality of work/life balance and ability to give back to the community, finds a new report from Xero.

“As both a millennial and an entrepreneur, I can easily identify with these results,” said Mr Blake Oliver, freelance accountant and Xero Ambassador. “I never wanted to go the traditional route. I want to be doing a job where I make a real difference — something I can be passionate about. That’s why I started my own business. It may not be as lucrative as working for a traditional firm, but it’s well worth it.”

Recession aftershocks as driver

Growing up in the recession, millennials are now trying to enter the workforce in the worst economy since the Great Depression. More millennials are now ditching traditional career paths and opting to start their own businesses.

From 1,200 respondents who are current and former owners of businesses in the US ranging from 18 to over 50, survey results find that unemployment is the biggest motivator for millennials that want to start their own businesses (22 per cent). This is almost double that of respondents between the ages of 30 and 50 (12 per cent).

“These survey results reaffirmed what we already knew: millennials want flexibility, they want to work whenever and from wherever,” said Ms Amy Vetter, global vice president of education and head of accounting at Xero. “Anyone looking to work with millennial business owners needs to meet this generation where they are, and that’s increasingly becoming in the cloud.”

Redefining success

A healthy work and life balance – not the number of zeros in bank accounts – is how 79 per cent of millennials measure business success. Millennials were raised on the internet and mobile devices, and with the rise of mobility, they want flexible work arrangements. Some 67 per cent of millennial respondents say having a schedule that allows them to travel and pursue personal interests is the second most important benchmark of success. Millennials also prioritize giving back to their communities, with 46 per cent seeing it as a sign of success.

Moving forward with caution

Despite a growing economy, millennials remain cautiously optimistic about the future of their companies’ growth (49 per cent). Interestingly, respondents over 50 were the most optimistic about their companies’ future growth (57 per cent), yet the most worried about a local suffering economy (47 per cent) – millennials are the opposite. About 43 per cent of millennials said the rising costs of running a business is what keeps them up at night.

Other findings include:

  • Aggressive about growth: Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) plan to grow their businesses organically from existing operations, and growing customer bases was top business priority in 2016 for 73 per cent
  • Business in the cloud: 35 per cent of millennials run businesses that are at least half cloud-based, and 27 per cent run entirely in the cloud.
  • Leaders in social media: Social media is the most popular way for millennial small business owners (61 per cent) to communicate 1-1 with their customers. It is also their channel of choice for communicating with their accountants and bookkeepers

“Compared to older generations, millennial business owners quickly adopt new technologies and integrate them into their business operations,” said Mr Jeff Phillips, CEO of accountingfly. “Millennials see the value in technology and are willing to try almost anything if it will make their lives easier. Accountants and bookkeepers with modern, cloud-based practices are winning big with this generation because they are meeting them where they are.”

Inside Small Business