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Americans born between 1980 and 2000 — may be the most entrepreneurial generation ever. A new study shows Millennials have more experience with small business and greater desire to start businesses than previous generations. But the study also demonstrates a continuing need for help for entrepreneurs if they'll create the jobs America needs.
The study, released Wednesday by America's SBDC, the association of the country's small business development centers, shows that people in their 20s and 30s are eager to launch new companies and be their own boss and that they trust themselves to provide their own financial security more than they trust others.
This entrepreneurial yearning isn't idle dreaming. Even though they're younger, Millennials are already more likely to have started a business than Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and mid-60s) or Gen Xers (mid-60s to 1980). They're in a hurry, wanting to start businesses soon. But they know they need help.
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"We are very encouraged that millennials are strongly inclined to begin the entrepreneurial journey," said C.E. "Tee" Rowe, CEO of America's SBDC, a network of nearly 1,000 SBDCs providing free consulting and low cost training.
"Not only do they want to take that path but they have the foresight to know that they'll need help along the way," he said.
New businesses are vital for America – over the last three decades, virtually all new US jobs have come from firms less than five years old, according to the Kauffman Foundation. New businesses not only produce most of the jobs but improve productivity, even create entire new industries.
The America's SBDC study, conducted in late March by the Center for Generational Kinetics, found:
► Nearly a third of Millennials have already started some kind of business (30% versus 19% for Boomers and 22% of Gen Xers), 38% have been part of a startup, and a full quarter (26%) have lived entirely off the income of a small business.
► Almost half of Millennials (49%) want to start their own business in the next three years. Over half (54%) would quit their job and start a business in the next six months with the right resources.
► More than other generations, Millennials were likely to grow up in a household that owned a small business (18% versus 12% for Boomers and 15% for Gen Xers) and a third of them have family or friends who work in a small business (33% versus 22% of Boomers and 20% of Gen Xers).
► Contrary to stereotypes, Millennials are pretty down-to-earth in their outlook. They're more likely to want to start a business to make money (specifically, "lots of money" as the study worded it), rather than to have fun, than other generations — the breakdown being 66% for Millennials, 62% for Gen Xers and 53% for Boomers. Half feel that financial stability is a must before launching out on their own.
► Millennials are unaware of entrepreneurial resources. They are less likely than other generations to know where to turn for help, such as the network of SBDCs.
► Business plans are still relevant. Forty-four percent of Millennials (versus only 18% of Boomers and Gen Xers each) have written a business plan or overview for starting their own business and just over half (51%) say business plan development is the number one type of help they want (beating out tax and regulation issues).
► Millennials like urban. 61% of Millennials think urban settings are the best places to start a business versus suburban (32%).
► They're global. A full 65% of Millennials would move to another country to start a business if given the opportunity, while only 24% of Boomers and 41% of Gen Xers would.
► Millennials trust themselves more than they do others. 61% of Millennials believe that the best job security comes from owning your own business rather than being employed by others, compared to 36% of Boomers and 40% of Gen Xers.
► Millennials would start businesses sooner if they had help. Almost three-quarters of Millennials (74%) would be more likely to start a business if they knew where to go for help, and six out of ten (59%) would start within a year with the right resources.