I’ll be the first to admit it: We millennials have a bad rep. They say we’re lazy, ungrateful and that we don’t grow up fast enough. (Anyone remember the Time magazine article?)
That said, we do have qualities which work in our favor. We dream big. We’re unafraid. We don’t understand the word “no.” All these attributes are very useful for entrepreneurs.
Right after college I was hired as a journalist and a few years later I founded my PR company, Sarah Rose Public Relations. In true millennial fashion, I was trying to run before I could walk. I didn’t go to business school or have an office. All I had was an idea and a longing for success.
Two years later, my company has blossomed. I have clients across the nation and the freedom to work whenever and wherever I want. I’ve watched my peers succeed too.
So for those young aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make it big, here is how to turn those stereotypically "bad" millennial traits to your advantage.
Being impatient. Our generation wants what we want when we want it NOW. We millennial entrepreneurs, however, can use “impatience” to propel us forward. We’re restless in non-leadership positions and want to get going already.
Twenty-something business owners do not play by the rules. We do not want to pay our dues by climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, we get impatient, want success now and make big changes so we can pursue our new, exciting venture (even if we’re a bit premature).
Having the attention span of a 5-year-old. In Corporate America, budding entrepreneurs often feel a sordid combination of drained and bored. They say we have short attention spans, but any millennial will tell you that when we are passionate about something, we can fixate on it for hours on end. So maybe it’s less boredom and more an inability to “stick it out” in a job we don’t enjoy.
Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” By choosing to pursue what we enjoy and are interested in -- even if that changes from time to time -- we can be an asset to any company.
Wanting fame and fortune and everything in between. Two words: reality TV. Our generation has watched average, if not below average people, become rich and famous for their debauchery, bestiality or just plain sex tapes (cough, cough Jersey Shore, Bad Girls Club, Real World, Kim Kardashian…). If idiots like The Situation can become millionaires, why can’t we?
The positive in this trait is that millennials have a healthy dose of self-aggrandizement. As entrepreneurs, we need to believe in ourselves, our vision and our dreams. Perhaps our generation takes confidence a bit too far. But in my experience, craving the limelight is the only way to bring it in.
Obsessing with the online world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Google+. These sites are in our blood, our DNA. Some see this obsession with social media as a negative. But for entrepreneurs being digitally savvy is extremely important. One of the main advantages is for networking.
For instance, my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s twin sister works at Bleacher Reporter. Great! I can reach out to her via LinkedIn, we can Gchat about my new sports client, she’ll connect me to her editor and the next thing I know my pitch is passed along to a journalist who writes about it for their basketball section. #Winning.
Lacking experience and our maturity level. They say youth is wasted on the young, but us millennial entrepreneurs take our energy and channel it into building an empire. Many of us don’t have huge responsibilities – think husband, wife, mortgage and kids.
We’re energized and full of ambition. Being in our twenties, we’re not old enough to be jaded but also not young enough to be disempowered. This can be a huge advantage for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to jump head first into a startup.