According to recent research by Bank of America, Millennials describe themselves as “confident” and “creative,” while Boomers and Gen-Xers call themselves “hardworking” and “dedicated.” But one thing that each generation has in common with the other generations is a commitment to entrepreneurship.
So, what advantages and challenges do Millennial entrepreneurs have over Gen X entrepreneurs? And how can Gen Y entrepreneurs support the efforts of their Boomer counterparts? I recently moderated a Google Hangout presented by Bank of America*, which included Generational Expert Dan Schawbel, Small Business Expert and USA Today Columnist Steve Strauss, and Bank of America Small Business Executive Robb Hilson, and we generated fantastic insights on the differences and opportunities amongst entrepreneurs from different generations.
You can watch the full event here, but some of the key takeaways included:
Co-Mentoring Creates a Win-Win- Effective co-mentoring happens when each party can bring value to the other. Many younger entrepreneurs think about getting insight from older entrepreneurs with years of experience, but sometimes, older entrepreneurs don’t think enough about what younger entrepreneurs can teach them in return. Millennials can help mentor older generations about getting access to younger customers and leveraging technology.
Personal Credit is the Gateway to Business Credit– It is more challenging for Millennials to obtain credit because they simply have not been in business as long as their older counterparts and are earlier in the business lifecycle. Additionally, newer businesses often don’t have cash flow to lend against. One simple thing that Millennials can do to improve their credit profile and chances of accessing business credit is to open a credit card. According to a recent Bank of America Better Money Habits survey, 78% of Millennials regularly use their debit card and 41% have no credit card at all. That should change, especially if they are business owners. New business owners need a good personal credit track record, and credit cards are a simple way to build credit in a Millennial business’s early years.
Technology Helps to Level the Playing Field Amongst Entrepreneurs- While Millennials are more tech savvy as a generation than their older counterparts, technology does help business owners of all ages to be more productive and to grow their businesses. Boomers and Gen X-ers should be learning to reach new customers by embracing social tools like Instagram and Facebook that Millennials are well versed in. Millennials can learn about recruitment and networking through LinkedIn, which is more favored by Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y entrepreneurs.
Leverage the Way Each Generation Self-Identifies- As mentioned earlier, each generation identifies itself with different adjectives and also has differing values. For example, Millennials want honest and open leadership, where Boomers value security in their opportunities. If you are recruiting amongst different generations, you have to know what’s important to each individual. Broaden your portfolio of benefits and the ways that you interact with employees to make sure that you are making each employee feel valued.
Balance Traditional and Non-Traditional Funding Sources- The Bank of America Small Business Owner Report also found that Millennial small business owners are nearly five times more likely than Gen-Xers to receive business funding from a peer-to-peer network! That staggering amount has more to do with technology access and how they learned to do business than with the strength of their networks. Boomer and Gen X entrepreneurs should be focused on how they can harness technology and their already broad networks to find access to funding in new ways. Also, not enough entrepreneurs use their business banker as a conduit to capital. For example, while Bank of America’s bankers focus on giving direct access to credit, they also are a great point person to help shepherd entrepreneurs toward non-traditional financing sources as well.
You can get more details on these tips and some additional tactics to help you gain even more momentum in your own business by watching the 30-minute video of the event. Make sure to make the time to do this and pursue other strategic endeavors where you can work on your business, not just in it. It’s worth investing a half hour of your time to take your business to the next level!
*Disclosure: this company has a client relationship with CarolRoth.com or its affiliated entities