5 Things Millennial Entrepreneurs Can Teach Their Business Elders About Running a Company

From their adroit use of technology to the importance they place on relationships, the youngest business people have embraced timeless business values in their own distinct way.

learn more about Keri Gohman

By Keri Gohman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Enter millennials, the generation now 18 to 33 that display the most positive outlook when it comes to the economy and growing their business. Despite having less experience than many of their business peers, they're bringing fresh ideas and skills to the table.

In fact, according to our most recent Spark Business Barometer survey, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of millennial-owned businesses reported increased sales over the past six months versus 41 percent of small business owners overall. Additionally, they are the most likely to grow their workforce this year.

Each generation, like every small business, brings with them a unique perspective and experience. Millennials are no exception. So what can business owners of all generations learn from millennials? And how can all businesses strengthen their enterprises in today's ever-changing and challenging environment? Here are just a five ways we see small businesses achieve success:

1. Embrace technology.

Millennials have an impressive understanding of the tech world because they were raised in it. In fact, according to a US Chamber of Commerce affiliate study, millennials are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of technology than more mature generations. Regardless of your age or generation, technology can be a great way to both simplify your operations and improve the bottom line. For example, mobile payment solutions enable business owners to facilitate credit card transactions quickly and cost-effectively. In fact, some also help small businesses manage and promote their operations with free marketing and inventory management tools.

Related: Why You Need to Start Accepting Mobile Payments Now

2. Consider non-conventional forms of financing.

Millennials are always thinking outside- the-box to make the most of their money, especially when it comes to financing. Here's an example: Taylor Erkkinen, co-founder of cooking and kitchen supply store Brooklyn Kitchen, obtained a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan to open a second location. SBA loans operate through private-sector lenders and are guaranteed by the government: they have features that might not be available through conventional loans, such as longer payback terms and higher borrowing limits, two options that can be very beneficial to small business operations. For the millennial- owned Brooklyn Kitchen, their loan enabled them to finance a complete website overhaul with an online class signup feature and inventory updates. Now is a great time for entrepreneurs to access capital. Rates are low, and banks are competing for business.

3. Make the most of your cash.

Take advantage of savings and other rewards offered by your bank or credit card company. Another millennial owned business, online wholesale food distributor Buyer's Best Friend, saved more than $1,000 per month in credit card swipe fees by using mobile technology to accept payments. They used that cash to market their business instead, a much better use of $12,000 per year, don't you think?

Related: Could Lower Card 'Swipe' Fees Create 240,000 Jobs?

4. Invest in your employees.

Forty-five percent of millennial small business owners plan to hire in the next six months, compared to 30 percent of all small business owners. Which ones attract the strongest employees? The ones who show they are willing to invest in their staff. Benefits such as competitive 401(k) plans can help small businesses win the competition for talent against bigger, more established companies.

5. Be willing to take risks but have a plan.

Generation Y seems to be willing to think differently in business building, but every business owner should start with a strong business plan and revisit it regularly. Having a solid plan will not only help you secure financial backing and third-party support, it will enable you to cross-check goals and measure progress along the way. Be prepared for, and look to benefit from, speed bumps and roadblocks. When you fail, learn from the experience and take that knowledge to execute a different approach. Try testing new products or marketing strategies. Go the distance to attract new customers.

Related: How Much Value Do Your Employees Bring to the Bottom Line?

Keri Gohman

Senior Vice President, Small Business Bank, Capital One

Keri Gohman is a veteran executive with an extensive track record of increasing shareholder value and customer loyalty through new business models, sales and channel strategies across multiple industries.  She currently serves as senior vice president and general manager of Capital One’s Small Business banking segment, managing the strategy, P&L, offerings, credit and customer experience for small business across retail and direct banking.

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