How the Rise of Millennials Affects Entrepreneurship and the Economy
Millennials, those of us born between 1982 and 2004, have received a lot of bad press; we are often associated with the personality traits of being “bratty”, narcissistic, lazy, and entitled. However, Millennials now make up a third of the Canadian and American population and are the largest customer demographic in the North America. With an annual purchasing power forecasted at $200 billion by 2017, Millennials deserve to be treated less like children and more like the generation that is making purchases, running businesses, and being productive members of the labour force. As younger Millennials continue entering the job market (and Baby Boomers continue to retire), we will soon make up the majority of our North American workforce.
It appears that Millennials will shape our economy for decades to come. So, are the rumours true? Will Millennials “sink the economic ship” that Baby Boomers and Gen X built for us?
Millennials are Starting Out with Poor Economic Conditions
Although Millennials are heavily scrutinized for wanting to work less and spend more – thus having a negative effect on the economy – the age group has largely adopted economic conditions which are fluctuating and difficult to manage. Perceptions of “the lazy generation” must be changed to reflect the creative, thinking-based economy which Canada is becoming a leader in.
Still, it will take some time for economic and job conditions to improve. We began entering the workforce during one of the worst moments in our recent economic past. This is of course the Great Recession of 2007-2009, which continues to impact the youth job market. Many Millennials struggled (and some are still struggling) to find a job which will use their post-secondary education. While the overall unemployment rate across North America has rebounded to a pre-recession average, the youth unemployment rate remains high. Canada’s youth unemployment rate is currently at 13.3%, almost double the national average of 6.8%. This has led more youth to attending post-secondary education to gain an advantage over other less-skilled applicants, as well as staying in school longer to pursue multiple degrees, additional certifications, and other academic credits. Due to this trend, Millennials are the most educated generation to date and pose significant benefits to the economy once they find and begin their employment.
Entrepreneurship Growth in Millennial Generation
Because of the adversity Millennials have experienced entering the labour market, many are creating their own opportunities and developing non-traditional career paths. The Council of Economic Advisors to the President of the United States released a report in late 2014 highlighting that only 13% of the Millennials’ career goals involve climbing the corporate ladder. In contrast, almost two-thirds (67%) said their goal involves starting their own business. This shows the dramatic shift towards entrepreneurship and how it might change the face of business in the coming years. Although several Millennials have become superstar entrepreneurs in their 20’s (Evan Spiegel, Kevin Systrom, and Mark Zuckerberg to name a few), this generation has hardly begun to reach the peak age for entrepreneurship, which generally occurs in mid-40’s to early 50’s. With such a focus on entrepreneurship, it’s likely that business activity will begin to migrate away from mega-corporations and back to locally owned business; if Millennials get their way, that is.
Related Blog: Youth Entrepreneurship Rates Increasing: GEM Report – The state of entrepreneurship is changing globally as more youth are taking self-employment options over working for established organizations.
Startup Assistance for Millennial Entrepreneurs
In order for Millennial entrepreneurs to become successful, programs need to be developed and funded to assist early-stage businesses in a shifting economy. In Canada, there are a number of resources that aspiring Millennial entrepreneurs can access to assist them in developing successful small businesses. Some of these include:
- Futurpreneur, which supports aspiring business owners specifically between the ages of 18-39.
- Startup Canada, a grassroots network of entrepreneurs that work together to build a more supportive environment for entrepreneurship in Canada.
- The Ontario Centres of Excellence which are located across Ontario and assists small businesses in the commercialization of innovation.
- Business incubators across Canada. Your local economic development organization or local post-secondary institutions can provide guidance in what’s available in your area.
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