Luxury cars. Expensive suits and skyscraper office views . Yacht and villa on the beach. These, among many more poorly informed perceptions, are what the majority of millennials think being an entrepreneur consists of. So here we are today, breaking famous stereotypes around starting your own business, and why it is important for the young generation to know the difference.
Nowadays, a lot of members of the younger generations tend to believe that by being an entrepreneur, which means being your own boss, you get all the profits from the company you run and therefore have this amazing lifestyle with money flying from the skies and coins pouring from the drains at home.
Being an entrepreneur is very much the total opposite, at least in the beginning. By starting your own business you bet on yourself, your skills and your vision for your future. You completely ignore any vision you have for short-term success because you believe your idea is so great that it will help you sustain yourself in the long run. Yes, indeed, many entrepreneurs get to the riches and wealth imagined by all. However, it is only through years of hard work, patience and belief in a vision every single day that entrepreneurs manage to reach that point in their life where they look like Jordan Belfort, throwing stacks of money at the FBI.
“Young People are Smarter”
Although this is a quote from Mark Zuckerberg from a 2007 event, it is a very widespread perspective that concerns the entrepreneurship industry, due to how wrong it is. By looking at all these famous entrepreneurs of nowadays, such as Evan Spiegel (Snapchat), Andrew Mason (Groupon) and Zuckerberg himself, which were all under 30 when starting their companies, it is easy to get carried away and believe young people are better at starting a business.
The idea of younger people being smarter comes from the concept that younger people lead a much simpler life. Without having to think about mortgages, bills and families to take care of, it is easier for younger adults to concentrate 100% on their idea for a business and grow it. However, this does not mean young people are smarter, or in any case, being better entrepreneurs. In fact, a study released by Duke University in 2018 shows that the average age of entrepreneurs starting a business and succeeding is 45 years old.
45. Years. Old.
Yeah, I was surprised too. However, it makes perfect sense; most people that age have the skills and experience in certain industries — if they have been in it for long enough — and understand what is working and what is not for that industry. Also, just because they have families to feed and bills to pay it does not infer that their lives aren’t simple as a young adult’s life is. Indeed, check out Richard Branson’s (Virgin Group) daily routine of keeping a simple and organised lifestyle.
Entrepreneurship Means Being a Tech Savvy
…Uber, Airbnb and Groupon had nothing to do with technology when they were founded…
Once again, through the popularity of many of today’s successful CEOs and entrepreneurs, the perspective that the most successful business leaders are all into technology is an astonishingly false one.
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
Being an entrepreneur has nothing to do with understanding technology and computers. It has all to do with wanting to improving society by bringing something to the table that someone hasn’t developed yet. Indeed, given the potential and the bright future of the tech industry, a lot of entrepreneurs decide to dive into that market and blossom in the future; and by a a lot I mean so many that in 2015 there were 3 tech startups founded every second, per GEM.
However, even most tech startups weren’t originally planed to be in the tech industry and some of the biggest tech founders didn’t know that much about computers when starting their companies. Many startups, such as Uber, Airbnb and Groupon had nothing to do with technology when they were founded, yet they were concentrated on their relationship with their customers and developing in those areas. It is due to technology taking such a big part of people’s lives that they took a tech approach to their businesses. Indeed, it is just like the famous sell-me-this-pen scene from Wolf of Wall Street; creating an emotion in people’s lives is all it takes to have a successful business.
“Why is it important that entrepreneurs are stripped from all their stereotypes?” you might ask. “What difference does it make?” I want to touch on something here that I believe is important for many industries nowadays.
To begin with, it is important to correct the image of entrepreneur in the millennials’ minds so they understand what it takes and whether it is for them. Nowadays, thanks to social media and movies many young adults are being embroiled in what comes with the job title. The struggles, the sacrifices and the hard work put in leading a business from the ground up is nowhere pictured in Instagram posts or Snapchat stories. The delusional luxurious lifestyle that a lot of young people believe an entrepreneur leads doesn’t actually exist and it’s important the new generations understand that. Why? Well, it has major complications for the employment and development of future societies. According to AACSB DataDirect, in 2015 from all the business management undergraduates worldwide only 55.3% were seeking for employment, compared to 17.1% not seeking at all. From those looking for a job, only 47.5% found one after graduating, whereas 25% weren’t accepted at all, with the latter number increasing massively over the last few years. Also, research shows that business management and marketing graduates are more likely to end up unemployed, and if employed, they would earn less than other business related degrees, such as finance and accounting. The reason being is that business students spend less time reading, writing and studying while in school compared to other degrees. Standardised tests have also shown that these graduates have weaker critical thinking skills compared to students from other courses.
In short, what does this all conclude to? Well, I am not saying that business majors are lazier and not as smart as other graduates. No, the numbers are saying that. In general, when kids enrol into business management courses, they have the stereotypical views mentioned above in their mind. But if schools fail to teach their students the skills needed for them to succeed as business managers, in an industry that is becoming more and more competitive, what is the final outcome going to be? A whole bunch of young adults with a business diploma in their hand, yet with no idea how, why and what they want to do in their life. Trust me, as a university student myself, I have experienced this.
However, there are also entrepreneurs that do not attend university but jump straight to creating a business; in fact, most of them do so. That I believe is great, as it allows individuals to prove and develop themselves, giving them a platform to make a living from something they actually love doing. However, with the misconception of what an entrepreneur is nowadays, the young generation become irrational when starting their business, not having calculated the risks of the job and whether it is for them or not. As mentioned above, in 2015 there were around 3 startups started every second.
That makes roughly 100 million startups for one single year!!
With no risk calculation or management, many people end up sacrificing their time and efforts, as well as money, into something that ends up not being for them.
This is where I think these stereotypes damage the society. Everyone wants to be a business owner, yet with not enough drive, experience or planning, a lot of individuals miscalculate what a business owner actually is. I read somewhere a couple months ago, that nowadays more people want to own a business, yet major industries themselves actually need workers with skills, that are applicable to small tasks within a business, such as engineers, accountants, pharmacists and consultants. No wonder those are the highest-paid jobs.
So, yes, it is amazing how creative people are and the multitude of ways that keep on being presented to do things through new startups everyday. However, everyone should understand that being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean having a luxury life, or being a tech geek or this and that. It’s much more than that.