How to Succeed as a Millennial Entrepreneur
Five actionable steps that millennials can implement to help them overcome obstacles and forge their way to entrepreneurial success.
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We all have our unique entrepreneurial journeys. As a member of the millennial generation that now dominates the world population, it's our generation's challenge to build a better world through the products and services that we offer, and also through the values that our businesses stand for.
This Herculean mission for millennial entrepreneurs comes with challenges that are unique to our generation. And when there are new problems, we are compelled to address them with new solutions, too.
Related: 4 Business Lessons for Millennial Entrepreneurs
Here are five actionable steps that millennials can implement to help them overcome obstacles and forge their way to entrepreneurial success.
1. Eliminate your distractions
Millennials are a distracted generation. We're known to have such short attention spans that a simple Facebook notification could break a productive streak. And while a lot of things demand our attention, that doesn't mean they're all important.
As entrepreneurs, it's essential that we're able to set aside distractions and focus on the things that really matter: our goals and visions, and the tasks at hand to make those dreams come true.
As a tech-savvy generation, it's in our best interest to use technology and social media to our advantage. You can turn off notifications for your social media platforms and install apps that help you focus and block distractions. Keep your eyes on the prize and eliminate time-wasting activities that take up your mental energy.
2. Build a story around your brand
Millennials now make up the majority of the consumer population. Because we're in the same generation as our target market, we are more capable of really identifying their needs and desires. One way of reaching out to our target audience is to create an engaging story about our brand.
Our customers want our narrative — they want to know the principles that we stand for as a brand, and they want to know the stories behind our products. Stories increase business value. Customers are more willing to spend their dollars on a brand that is aligned with their belief systems.
Illustrate your whys and hows: Why did you start your business, why did you pursue this particular pain point, how do you source your materials, and ultimately, how does your brand make the world a better place?
Millennials thrive on stories and through these stories, we can engage and connect with consumers on a level that inspires them to take action.
Related: 5 Unique Traits of Millennial Entrepreneurs
3. Collaborate with competent people
One of the pitfalls of living in the age of information is that we assume that we can do and learn anything because we think everything is available on the Internet. Part of being a smart entrepreneur is acknowledging your weaknesses and realizing that studying YouTube tutorials can't fill in massive gaps in your knowledge. This is why you will benefit greatly by working with competent and purpose-driven professionals.
When you have team members with different skill sets and strengths, then your company can respond more effectively to problems requiring certain expertise. Having different perspectives may also open you up to fresh solutions that trigger your own creativity or help you look at things from a different angle.
I believe that having trusted mentors and partners who are good at what they do and share the same vision and goals as you is a necessity if you want to scale your business. All of your combined experiences and expertise can eventually bring the company to greater heights.
4. Stay optimistic
The millennial generation was born during a tumultuous period in history. This means living through the Great Recession during the late 2000s, and more recently, dealing with the worldwide health crisis that ushered in another economic downturn. In spite of these bleak circumstances, it pays to have an optimistic outlook.
What are the benefits of optimism? A study conducted by Michelle Gielan and Frost Bank found that optimists are more likely to experience better financial health than pessimists. They're also more likely to possess healthier money habits.
The nationwide study found that 61 percent of optimists have started an emergency fund, while only 43 percent of pessimists did so. The survey also discovered that 90 percent of optimists allot money for major purchases compared to 70 percent of pessimists. This shows that optimists are future-oriented, which adds a layer of financial protection against economic slumps.
As entrepreneurs, having an optimistic attitude during challenging situations allows us to shift our focus from the negative to the constructive. It supports creative thinking and risk-taking, which are both crucial in order to become successful millennial business owners.
5. Cultivate resilience and flexibility
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as "the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands."
Entrepreneurs, even the most successful ones, are no strangers to failure. But resilience is what enables us to bounce back from those failures and emerge as stronger and wiser individuals.
We live in a fast-paced world that often changes at the speed of light. New information and trends can suddenly overturn previous ones, which is why we need to adapt to our ever-changing environment with agility and precision. Flexibility in business means that we can make internal changes to effectively respond to outward shifts.
This is the challenge for a lot of startups mostly led by millennials. Based on research conducted in 2019, 21.5 percent of startups fail in their first year, and 30 percent in their second year, and 50 percent in their fifth year.
A lot of factors contribute to startup failures, and part of cultivating resilience is foreseeing possible causes for failure and preparing for them well in advance. Setbacks are expected in any business, which is why we have to be prepared to fail fast, learn from experience and regain our momentum.
We now live in a completely different business and economic climate compared to previous generations. We are faced with new problems and have to come up with novel solutions to ensure that we succeed in our ventures.
We are fortunate to live at a time when we have numerous technological and educational tools at our disposal. And on top of that, we can play to our strengths as a resilient generation armed with the skills and mindset needed to withstand shifts and trials in our entrepreneurial journeys.
Related: 5 Tips for Scaling Your Influence as a Millennial Entrepreneur