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Are Millennials Reshaping What It Means to be a Business Owner?

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These days, anyone from age 22 to 37 is a card-carrying member of the Millennial generation, and they're changing the face of business ownership. As they take the helm of businesses across the country, Millennials are applying their own approach to being the boss: according to the Capital One Small Business Growth Index, they are more likely to offer benefits to their employees, more likely to have plans to hire, and more optimistic than their older counterparts.

Millennials are Driving Optimism and Expecting Financial Improvement

Many Millennials graduated during the peak of the recession - they have experienced tough economic conditions and might still be feeling the impact of underemployment, deferred student loan payments or a delay in getting their savings started. So, it's no surprise that in today's booming economy, 80 percent of Millennial business owners think that business conditions are good or excellent, a higher number than Gen-X (64 percent), Baby Boomer (67 percent) and Mature business owners (62 percent).

Millennial business owners also expect a bright future: 58 percent expect their financial position to improve in the next six months.

Embracing Technology and Innovation

As digital natives, Millennials have an advantage over business owners from older generations - they have an inherent knack for incorporating technology into their business processes, and are used to the fast pace of change. Many millennials are also at an advantage when it comes to social media, with many small businesses turning to the platforms to reach narrowly defined audiences in their marketing efforts.

Millennials are also innovating the types of businesses they create, whether it's flipping the script on traditional business models to founding purpose-driven companies that enable social good.

The Capital One Small Business Growth Index found that 56 percent of Millennial business owners say that innovation is what is driving their business optimism, compared to 40 percent of Gen-X business owners and just 30 percent of baby boomer and mature business owners.

Bringing on Employees and Treating Them Differently

Hiring and retaining top talent is a challenge for businesses of all sizes, especially as more businesses look to hire. Millennials in particular are on the hunt for new employees, with 57 percent saying they have plans to hire in the next six months compared to 38 percent of Gen-X, 27 percent of Baby Boomers and 17 percent of Mature business owners.

Perhaps the starkest contrast between Millennials and older business owners is their approach to offering employee benefits - especially the kind that build a strong workplace culture. Millennials are a different type of business owner, because millennials are a different type of worker. Many millennials do not have the same workplace expectations of working a 9-5 job and they do not want that lifestyle for their employees. Research shows Millennial business owners value flexibility and a balance between work and personal life.

Ninety-four percent of Millennial and Gen-X small business owners offer benefits, with Millennials the most likely to offer many of the benefits that young workers are looking for, including flexible work hours, team outings and employee snacks and meals. In today's tight labor market, these small perks can make a big difference when it comes to hiring and retaining employees.

While Millennials might get a bad rap, they are bringing interesting new ideas to the table, and older business owners might even learn a thing or two from their younger peers.

Learn more about the Capital One Small Business Growth Index here.

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