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How Millennials are conditioned to be entrepreneurs

Millennials are increasingly entrepreneurial for four main reasons that we detail here. The generation is young, ready to work, and aiming to change the world, and with help, they just might.



The entrepreneur generation

Recently, The Harvard Business Review referred to Millennials as “the MacGuyvers of Business,” telling the story of a young entrepreneur who spent time inside a hospital observing staff and determining how they could make the staff more sanitized without their having to go out of their way while at the same time saving the hospital money and potentially saving the 100,000 American lives lost every year to infections transmitted in health care facilities. The young team did not spend a fortune on study groups (nor did Steve Jobs), and they didn’t wine and dine the hospital’s Board of Directors to discover their desires, they trusted their intuition and have since launched a growing company that is experiencing burgeoning success.

1. Education

So why are Millennials conditioned to be entrepreneurs? Several reasons – first, that company mentioned above built on intuition is successful because the team thought outside of the box, a practice that even the worst of public school systems is increasingly trying to promote. Millennials have been taught through alternative methods, and the charter school concept has exploded in the last decade, leading to a very specialized education of students that have not even hit the halls of a University yet.

Educators have innovated in recent years to not only accommodate special needs children but to engage creative children. Even math classes in the last 20 years have moved from memorizing formulas for regurgitation to more creative real world applications of formulas. The school systems are failing in many ways, but many Millennials (not all) have grown up in an environment that promotes higher level thinking that allows them to sit in a hospital and watch people to find legitimate solutions, rather than schmooze execs for a buck.

2. The American Dream

Millennials are also conditioned to be entrepreneurs because the American Dream has changed. Most people under 30 are not married and most do not have children. Many are college educated, but many left college in pursuit of other endeavors. The idea of homeownership has changed and the stigma of renting is dying. The concept of working in a high rise building in a suit and carrying a briefcase is not necessarily the goal anymore – Mad Men is a television show, not a desired reality for Millennials.

In other words, the nuclear family in the three bedroom ranch house on an acre and a steady corporate job is no longer the national standard of the American Dream. No, the Dream is to be successful and happy. Note, “rich,” or “famous,” or “married,” was not in the list of what makes up the Dream. As a Millennial, I can tell you that almost everyone I know near my age is more interested in flexible work schedules so they can travel or take cooking classes, and almost everyone would much rather build a company from scratch that they continue to bootstrap than to bow down to a corporate master that treats them poorly.

3. Measured risk

Besides schooling and a shifting American standard, Millennials are prone to measured risk and failure is not as socially devastating as in generations past. Millennials are fixers and innovators, and are among the most generous generations with the highest buying power that currently exists. Millennials are conditioned to be entrepreneurs not because they were told by Barney the Dinosaur that they can be anything they want to be, but because their role models are so frequently other entrepreneurs that failed five times before the sixth success that not only launched them, but changed the world.

4. Parents’ influence

Lastly, Millennials watched their parents work long hours and slave to give them a better life and most are so very grateful. Travel, music, philanthropy and time away from work are very important to many Millennials and being an entrepreneur can (note: can) lead to a life more conducive to supporting a family and being able to spend time with them without having to clock in and clock out at an hourly rate that rarely goes up or being stressed by the traditional grind.

Additionally, parents of Millennials are often highly encouraging and young entrepreneurs often know that if they fail, their parents’ house is open. Some believe the generation has been coddled by parents who were overly encouraging and gave gold stars to all participants, even the losers, but the encouragement and soft landing pad has given rise not to self-righteous children, but people willing to get their hands dirty, get creative, and know that if they don’t change the world on their first try, they’ll have another chance. And probably another.

The Millennial shift

Many think Millennials are selfish – so few are married or parents. Some think that Millennials are spoiled – they often expect to be the boss of a company when they walk in at age 21 because they have a prestigious degree. Others think that Millennials are silly – the generation takes risks, is willing to be creative, and willing to fail, but those factors are not silly.

Sure, there is a downside to having a generation that has been raised to chase dreams (failed investments, bad products, etc.), but the upside of a generation finishing college to start their own business with the goal of solving worldly problems is admirable as the American dream shifts once again.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Drew Meyers

    March 15, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Yup..I’m a millennial, and VERY entrepreneurial. Couldn’t agree more with the shift in the american dream.

    My mind is a crazy sea of business ideas…which I’m now going to share on 🙂

  2. Puneet Lakhi

    March 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I think more and more millenials are getting frustrated with the longer hours and lower pay they’re facing in the corporate world. By creating their own business, they can see a more equitable return from their work, have a more flexible working environment, and control the direction of their work.

    This generation has been called “Entitled”, but I think more than that, we’re just a more confident generation. We’re not willing to take a beat down by bosses who don’t know as much, and have real goals and aspirations to change the world rather than to endure the status quo. I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed about this, and that as such, entrepreneurship should be even more celebrated amongst our generation.

    Puneet Lakhi
    Founder, – Young Entrepreneur Network

  3. Tom Natan

    March 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    And yet, in today’s Washington Post, a story about how milennials are less environmentally-minded and less civic-minded than their parents were when they were young. One could be less than charitable and attribute this willingness to be entrepreneurs as a symptom of their self-centeredness as well.

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Business Entrepreneur

7 books every entrepreneur should read

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You’ve heard it said, “do as I say and not as I do.” Read these books from authors who have figured out what works and what doesn’t when starting a business.



bookstores books

The power of books

If you’re thinking about leading a startup, but not sure where to go, the internet is often the first place we look. Surely, you can find dozens of blogs, articles, stories, and opinionated editorials that can help give you something to think about.

However, there are tons and tons of great books that can help you think about what you need to get started, how you need to change your mindset, or challenges you may confront as you begin your startup journey. Take a look at the following 7 you may want to add to your bookshelf.

1. The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business
This text not only boasts a 5 start rating on Amazon, but offers what few books do – practical, tangible, down to earth advice. Where lots of books try to tell you a story, talk strategy, and share wins, author David Rose instead focuses on advice that assumes no prior experience – and breaks it down from the fundamentals.

2. Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation
Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom focus on creating a lean startup by offering a step-by-step process that focuses on nailing the product, saving time, and saving money. The first step is about testing assumptions about your business, and then adjusting to growing it (hence: Nail It and Scale It). Strong aspects of this book include a great theoretical foundation, and an easy to follow framework.

3. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Startup
Wasserman’s strength here is that he focuses not only on the financial challenges, but identifies the human cost of bad relationships – ultimately how bad decisions at the inception of a start-up set the stage for its downfall. This book is a great tool to proactively avoid future legal challenges down the row, and also discusses the importance of getting it right from the start.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Horowitz writes about his experiences, taken from his blog, in a way that even inexperienced managers can touch and learn. The advice here really focuses on leading a start-up, and what lessons his experience has given him. Presented in a humorous, honest, and poignantly profane way.

5. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
Blank and Dorf here standout due the sheer mass of this text. A comprehensive volume at 573 pages, my favorite piece for new investors is a focus on valued metrics – leveraging data to fuel growth.

6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
A personal favorite of mine, this book is recommended for entrepreneurs not because it’s focus on business, but as a reminder that those of you wanting to start up are people. You have limited resources to manage as a person, and will need to adjust your perspective on what you care about. This book is about changing your mindset to pick your battles and be more focused.

7. Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup
Bill Aulet starts with an approach that entrepreneurs can be taught, and breaks down the process into 24 steps, highlighting the role of focus, the challenges you may encounter, and the use of innovation. This text wins due to its practicality for new start-ups, and a specific method for creating new ventures. It also features a workbook as an additional, optional resource. Check it out on Amazon


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Business Entrepreneur

Business pro tip: when pricing your product, think like a photographer

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) On of the growing pains associated with starting your own business is knowing how much to charge for goods and services. Use these helpful tips one photographer uses for pricing a photo and get the ball rolling!




More than a thousand words

A picture may say a thousand words, but a photo doesn’t just tell a story. A simple photo can be an excellent example on how to price your next business product.

Photography blogger Sarah Petty wrote her method of pricing a simple 8×10 inch photograph for as advice for her fellow photography business owners. But her advice can actually be applied beyond the world of studios and darkrooms. Here’s how to think like a photographer whenever developing the cost of your next good or service.

Step One: Know thyself (and know thy client)

Your first step in knowing your next price for your next best selling item or service is knowing what type of business you run. This is solved by answering the simple question: are you a high volume seller with lower prices or lower volume seller with higher prices?

This question can be answered by looking at your sales for the past month. Are your trends indicating your customers prefer a more personalized, boutique approach to the things they purchase from you (with higher prices), or do you move a lot of product (with lower prices)?

When you understand what type of business sales trend you’re following, move onto step two.

Step Two: Understand your sunk costs.

A sunk, or fixed cost, is the price to manufacture or deliver a good that will not change (unless reacting to the market’s inflation). What is the basic core cost of manufacturing the product you intend to put in your store? That amount, your cost of goods sold (CGOS), is the baseline from which your ultimate price will come from. Now to step three.

Step Three: Look at your other overhead for producing your product.

So you know your CGOS, so all you do now is just add what money you want to make off that? Wrong. You’re forgetting that you’re not just making that product. You are maintaining a store or electronic storefront, you’ve got office space, human resource costs, and other things that may slip by whenever you’re trying to develop your price for your next big thing. This doesn’t mean you’re charging a customer a month’s rent for consultation fee, of course, but knowing that you’re going to need a comfortable cushion whenever figuring this product’s cost out. According to the federal Small Business Administration you should allocate a portion of the profit “to each service performed or product produced” and this cost should be calculated annually. Finished, now to step four.

Step Four: Profit!

Finally, after factoring your CGOS and your overhead, now you can decide what you want to make by selling. Petty personally uses the approximation of making 4 or 5 times her CGOS plus her overhead per item. Whatever the ultimate cost is, it has to be able to lend you the ability to live comfortably in order for you to be able to manufacture more in the future.

The next time you have to develop a price for a new product, don’t forget to step into the world of photography for awhile. You’ll be saying cheese all the way to the bank.


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Business Entrepreneur

Startup helps freelancers find trusted partners for overflow work

(BUSINESS NEWS) Covailnt is a service for freelancers that takes the mystery out of collaborating, helping us all to focus on what’s in front of us.



covailnt freelancers overflow

Trying to balance work and networking can be a huge pain even as a traditional worker; for freelancers, maintaining both categories is often downright impossible. If you’re struggling to make meaningful partnerships in the freelancing world, Covailnt may have a solution for you.

Covailnt takes the mystery out of freelancing, which—unlike romance—could do with a bit less guesswork. The service is best described as a combination of a workflow app and a social network, but its core function is to serve as a database of freelancers. Each person who signs up for Covailnt fills out a profile which includes skills, availability, location, and a portfolio; as a Covailnt user, you can use this information to determine whether you want to work with the person.

The ability to review a freelancer’s highlight reel without having to initiate a conversation is sure to be a time-saver, and you get to avoid the awkward follow-up conversation to boot.

Time efficiency is clearly a strong influence on Covailnt’s platform: each freelancer’s surface-level profile prioritizes the preview window to display their level of business, using metrics from “Not Working” all the way through “Slammed”. Having this information front-and-center makes it easy to differentiate between who in your network might be available for overflow work and who you shouldn’t contact for the time being.

Covailnt also makes it easy to find compatible people with whom to collaborate. In what always seems to be the case when a group project emerges, your go-to collaborator might be too busy to handle a joint effort, and not everyone has the time to troll through the classifieds in search of a temporary partner. Searching for a like-minded, similarly skilled freelancer via Covailnt can significantly cut down on the time you spend looking and help you prioritize the work itself.

Beyond its site-level features, the coolest part of this service is that it allows you to build a network of talented people with whom you share interests, goals, and workstyles. Once you’ve established such a network, you may find your work queue filling up with things you actually care about, enabling you to push some of your less enjoyable work to someone in your network who will give it the care it deserves.

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