Why Today's Young Professionals Are Turning To Knowledge Entrepreneurship The key factors behind the rise of knowledge entrepreneurship, and why now's the perfect time to pursue such a career path.

By Ademola Adekunbi

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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In light of innovations disrupting the world nowadays, it's clear that the world is shifting from the industrial age to the knowledge age. Nearly every career and business are now impacted by the phenomenally growing 'knowledge industry.'

Today, young professionals with remarkable versatility and strong personal brands are highly valued beyond those who merely have degrees from one prestigious institution or another, particularly when it comes to opportunities and careers as we've come to an era where digital aptitude is the most crucial skill.

Call it synchronicity, kismet, or just being in the right place at the right time. Successful entrepreneurs understand this paradigm shift and are doing everything to make the most of it. Fortunately, digital technology makes it so easy that anyone can create and/or consume as much as possible on-demand knowledge with just a few clicks online.

In essence, these trends are converging to render a new type of entrepreneurship- knowledge commerce. "If the industrial economy ran on coal and iron ore, the fuel of today's economy is knowledge," as aptly put by Erik Stam and Elizabeth Garnsey of the University of Cambridge.

Let's consider the key factors behind the rise of knowledge entrepreneurship, and why now's the perfect time to pursue such a career path, which helps feed a workforce that's hungry for dynamic competency.

1. Today's young professionals have a lock on digital traits

Most young professionals today have key traits that make knowledge-based careers a natural fit. Firstly, they grew up being at ease consuming information online very quickly and fluently, sifting through digital resources and using them to hone their skills and further their careers. More so, their generation brings online personal branding into life by promoting their core competencies beyond what they learn in class.

In fact, young people are reevaluating the need for formal higher education, in the face of mounting tuition fees and crushing student debts. Many have grown up in alternative learning classrooms or homeschool environments where self-service education is an integral part of the routine. Even in traditional public schools, online learning has become indispensable. So, the mentality of today's tech-savvy professionals, to quote entrepreneurial adviser Vera Wilhelmina Mayer, is "help me help myself or I'm out."

All of these personality traits come to bear on how this generation gains new career competencies. This goes for both the consumers and the new generation of entrepreneurs who provide the knowledge.

2. The workplace demands competence, not degrees

The workplace itself favors this trend. It, in fact, demands it. Many businesses have realized the harmful effects of degree inflation. According to Harvard Business School's Dismissed by Degrees Research Report, employers pay between 11% and 30% more when they hire college graduates. Yet they also find that non-graduates with experience perform equally well on dimensions like productivity, time to promotion, and the amount of management and oversight required.

Therefore, forward-thinking companies are realizing this discrepancy, and many are backing away from their insistence on formal educational qualifications.

This increases the value and the need for online skills training and learning opportunities. For many young professionals, the idea of sharing their own body of knowledge online is nothing short of a compelling, viable career path.

3. Digital technology bolsters knowledge entrepreneurship

Young professionals have a corporate landscape that's increasingly embracing the digital culture. In addition, they have access to democratized tech platforms on which these needs are met, meaning that there are little or no barriers to accessing whatever information they need at any point in time.

Until recently, marketing, content and commerce services like subscription billing, triggered emails and webinars were only affordable at the enterprise level. Thanks to the simplification by SaaS, this kind of tech has been democratized to the point where simple DIY platforms are powering the rise of knowledge commerce.

"The online learning industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds every day," writes digital marketing consultant Shane Barker. "Individuals who have chosen to share their knowledge and expertise digitally have seen amazing returns."

The results are huge. "This is a $234 billion industry," says Jonathan Cronstedt, President of Kajabi, a knowledge commerce platform. Kajabi's research shows that up to five billion people will be entering the workforce in the next 20 years, and many of them will be turning to knowledge entrepreneurs for their educational and career advancement needs.

Technology is remaking our world. As it does, the digitalization of everything increases the potentials of knowledge entrepreneurship in an era where digitally native, self-directed learners will not cease to seek out knowledge.

Related: BizWorld UAE: Preparing MENA's Future Generations For Their Entrepreneurship Journey

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Ademola Adekunbi

CEO, Regal Inks Content Marketing

Ademola Adekunbi is a writer, entrepreneur, and CEO of Regal Inks Content Marketing. He works with companies to boost their search engine positions, and ensure an increase in customer engagement and revenue. 

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