The Millennials Dilemma

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Asian Businesswoman Leading Meeting At Boardroom Table
Millennials  are people who were born between 1982 and 2004. This generation of people have built quite a reputation for themselves. They are often associated with being lazy, obsessed with social media and being highly “purpose driven”. Whether the stereotypes are true is a discussion for another day, but there is definitely one thing about millennials that stands out, they are by far one of the most entrepreneurial generations to date. More than one third of millennials have a side business. The biggest reason for this has to do with their drive to feel that their work has purpose and is impactful, entrepreneurship gives people the opportunity to achieve this. Entrepreneurship at its core is the ability to identify problems, and create solutions to these problems in a manner that generates profits.

 As great and cool as entrepreneurship is, it is also rocky waters and it is not very easy to create a successful business. On average 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months, but for millennials it is a little bit more complicated. Entrepreneurship gives millennials a better opportunity to achieve career satisfaction and find a sense of purpose, but at the same time it gives rise to the millennials dilemma. The millennial dilemma can be broken into two facets. The first dilemma is millennials don’t actually have enough experience in a particular field or industry to qualify as an expert. Being an expert in a particular field or industry is usually regarded as a critical component for a successful business. The second dilemma is in order to gain the necessary experience in a certain field or industry you need to work in a company or business that operates in that field of interest. This experience will allow you to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to build a successful company in that respective field or industry. However, being an entrepreneurial millennial getting a job may not always be an easy appointment. For the young entrepreneur, the main motivation to become an entrepreneur in the first place is to avoid having to work for somebody else ,so the idea of applying for a job may seem counterintuitive. For an employer, hiring an entrepreneur may not be the most appealing thing. It is easy for entrepreneurs to be perceived as not good employees. They may be viewed as not really being interested in the employers company and rather only interested in the job for the paycheck. This perception of entrepreneurs can effect your employability, as they may be more favorable to someone who has aspirations to grow with the company in the long term.

 On paper these dilemmas may seem overwhelming, but there are remedies for each. Firstly, there is no such thing as being “too young or too inexperienced“ to start a business. The common measure of experience is time, the longer someone has worked in a certain industry the more of an expert you become in that field. But that is not necessarily the case, because time can be compensated by obsession. If you become obsessed over a particular field or industry and optimize your time with becoming familiar with that field you can find yourself well versed and knowledgeable in that industry. The knowledge gained can be put to good use to advance your business. Also you can supplement learning by networking with experts in that field and make them your mentors, so they can help you avoid the same mistakes that they have already made in business. The biggest advantage of this digital era is a lot of the emerging businesses industries are respectively new, which means that everybody is on the same playing field and have the same opportunities to become an expert in that field. For example, the tech space is innovative and always changing the game, and often the most successful people in this industry are people with fresh ideas and not much experience.

Employment and experience. There is no denying that the two are interlinked, that cannot be disputed, the problem arises in the perception of employment. Often when people think about employment they are thinking about being an employee for someone else or some company. They never consider that can be an employee for their own business. When you start a business, you are equally an employee as well as an employer, and the experience you gain from starting a business and working for yourself has the same value as working for any other company. In the case that you do need a job to generate a source of capital to fund your business, you can still do that, and being an entrepreneur is your greatest asset. At first it may seem odd to state entrepreneur on your CV while applying for a job. It may be interpreted that you are not a very successful entrepreneur  if you are in  need of a job. Fortunately, enough being an entrepreneur has a scope broader than being a business owner, it is the ability to create solutions to everyday problems and identify opportunities nobody else sees. If you emphasize these aspects of entrepreneurship in an interview any company will see the significant amount of value that you can add to their business. It is also critical that as a young entrepreneur in pursuit of a job, that you choose a job that gives you an opportunity to learn and build skills that will help you develop your business. It does not have to be your dream job, if it is being a waitress or sitting  at a desk, you should see it as being given the opportunity to learn more about business. It is important that you seize the opportunity and take the experience gained and put it towards your business along with your salary.

There are dilemmas that arise when you start a business, but all can be overcome, being a millennial is no exception to the rule.

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