The Rise Of America’s Millennial Entrepreneurs

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – What actually makes entrepreneurship grow? That’s probably the most important challenge in economics globally. In America, entrepreneurs and the businesses they start are at the very core of the economy. Startups and growing firms provide opportunities for workers and drives innovation forward. There is little doubt startup activity is essential to the economic health of America, and the latest Kauffman Index of Startup Activity suggests that something new is afoot. For the second consecutive year, new businesses are on the up in the US, rising 0.38 in 2016. This positive trend comes two years after the Index plunged to its lowest level in two decades. Now, entrepreneurship is finally recovering, with women and minority-owned businesses leading the way, and there’s evidence that millennials are becoming more involved in entrepreneurship.

For years, entrepreneurship has been dominated by men. Yet, according to this report, 40.6% of new businesses are now started by women, while Latino-owned businesses are rising, accounting for 20.8% of all new entrepreneurs. Though the rates of millennial entrepreneurship aren’t particularly high, it’s this generation that’s starting to influence more women and minority owned startups. A new generation of entrepreneurs has arrived, and they’re already outperforming their parents. Some experts have called them the ‘millennipreneurs,’ as they’re starting more companies, managing bigger staffs and targeting higher profits than their baby boomer predecessors. This is a group—anyone born from the early 1980s until around 2000—that is influencing the rising diversity of America’s population, which is the most diverse generation in the country’s history, as 43% of the millennial population are non-white. This change in racial diversity means more minorities are inspired to become business owners.

They think and act differently, pushing for more diversity and are very socially active, politically conscious and care about social justice, and equality. These beliefs drive more women and minorities into the spotlight, and reward businesses started by women and minorities with more economic opportunities. Millennials are the most represented generation in the workforce. The proliferation of technology, the growth in available private startup capital along with the millennial mindset are factors enabling this entrepreneurial spirit.

Notable millennial entrepreneurs include Mark Zuckerberg; Kevin Systrom of Instagram; Evan Spiegel of Snapchat; and Jessica Alba, actress turned entrepreneur, who formed The Honest Company, a brand that pushes ethical and non-toxic products.

While millennials show both enthusiasm and optimism for starting a company, the reality is that they are also combating unemployment, underemployment and the everlasting student loan crisis. Their economic struggles have become a burden, despite the fact that two-thirds of colleges offer entrepreneurship programs. As they gain more experience and progress in their careers, they will eventually have the capital, intelligence and network required to start a sustainable company. 

Photo Credit: Kaufmann Foundation