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Microsoft studies the Gen Z approach to entrepreneurialism

Microsoft’s latest survey reveals how Gen Z redefine & rediscover hustle and what they think about being their own boss.

Group of Gen Z people

Microsoft’s “Small Business State of Mind” survey turned the age-old complaint about Gen Z on its head.

In the survey 1000 small business owners answered questions about entrepreneurship.

62% of Gen Zer’s indicate they have started or intend to start their own business making them the most entrepreneurial generation ever. And experts say entrepreneurship is changing the face of today’s business world.

For this generation of youngins, the business world looks different for a number of reasons. The Microsoft Store survey broke those reasons down and led with the top 5 ways they are changing things.

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1.  Gen Z small business owners are redefining the workplace hustle.

The Microsoft Store survey showed that 91% of Gen Z small business owners work unconventional hours outside of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 81% work while on vacation, compared to 62% of small business owners overall.

“At Microsoft Store, we know technology is critical to supporting a flexible and mobile work lifestyle,” said Travis Walter, vice president of Microsoft Store.

“It allows small business owners the ability to manage a business at any time from anywhere, reach customers where they are at, and gives them space to focus on what really matters to them and their business.”

For Gen Z, it’s not enough to make money.

2. Business owners want to give back. The Microsoft Store survey calls that the do-good effect.

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And small business owners investing in social good see benefits.

Half of Gen Z small business owners (50%) rank social good as among their top three business priorities compared to 39% of small business owners overall.

The data shows a “do-good effect,” with 88% of small business owners who prioritize social good in their business saying it helps their business grow and 44% saying it has positively impacted their mental health.

3. The survey shows that while looking to help others, Gen Z practices Risky business when it comes to protecting against data breaches.

Small businesses are letting data breach prevention fall to the wayside.

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The survey found that nearly half (47%) of small business owners, including Gen Z, haven’t invested much in data security and are rolling the dice hoping to avoid a data breach.

“This underscores the importance of investing in the right technology and taking proper precautions,” Walter said.

“Technology has the power to open doors for small business owners—allowing them to efficiently run their business, more easily reach their customers, improve their productivity and increase output—but preventative security measures are a must.”

Walter said Microsoft found there are now 921 password attacks per second, that’s 79.5M attacks per day.

“It’s critical to put proper data security measures in place, take the time to safeguard devices, and arm employees with the knowledge to prevent data theft,” Walter said.

4. The Microsoft Store survey shows one of the driving forces of Gen Z’s move to entrepreneurship is the desire to retire early.

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61% of Gen Z small business owners believe pursuing entrepreneurship will lead them to retirement sooner than if they had gone corporate, compared to 40% of all small business owners.

A look through TikTok shows multiple Gen Z and Gen X experts sharing investment how-tos for young entrepreneurs setting up 401k accounts through Vanguard and Fidelity and explaining the ins and outs of dollar cost averaging.

And that’s a perfect example of what the Microsoft Store survey found about Gen Z when it comes to research…

5. Gen Z small business owners look to TikTok for business advice while debating the necessity of college.

Microsoft Store found that while a third of small business owners overall use TikTok as a resource to learn about business, that percentage nearly doubles for Gen Z small business owners (65%). In fact, small business owners who use TikTok as a resource (48%) are more likely to have multiple side hustles than those who do not (27%), more evidence of today’s workplace hustle.

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Mary Beth Lee retired from teaching in Texas this year after 28 years as a student media adviser. She spends her time these days reading, writing, fighting for public education and enjoying the empty nester life in Downtown Fort Worth.



  1. Prof Bruce

    August 19, 2022 at 7:31 am

    Interesting article. One question for you though. I coach a lot of entrepreneurs, and the idea of “early retirement” is, on its face, attractive, but reality is different, at least in my experience. Many of these fledgling enterprisers will succeed, but only in building a lifestyle business… when they stop putting in the hours, cashflow will dry up. Hence, they will be caught like many other entrepreneurs being able to retire about “five years after they die.” Your view?

    • Lani Rosales, COO + News Director

      August 19, 2022 at 10:28 am

      Hey Professor Bruce, I didn’t write the article but I run ops here at AG, and I’d love to weigh in on this topic! You’ve spotted an unavoidable flaw in the survey in that *sentiment* (aiming to retire early) doesn’t always match reality. It sounds like Gen Z is soaking up financial info and hoping to retire early, but you and I both know that over time, realities change. It’s easy to romanticize retirement if you haven’t yet raised a family or shifted priorities – all adults go through at least one of those things, changing their trajectory.

      The other worry that I have is that this commitment to hustling so early and at such a rapid pace has me worried that the small business owners in Gen Z will burn out, as many of us millennials have. Fortunately, their generation is pretty militant about protecting their work-life balance, so I think regardless of whether their early retirement dreams come true or not, they’ll be okay, don’t you?

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