Millennials: it’s time to start a small business. You know you want to be your own boss, and there’s lots of great small business ideas out there.
Millennials—those born between 1982 and 2000’s (according to the US Census Bureau)—have good reason to consider striking out on their own and launching a business.
Why? Because many Millennials came of age around the time of the Great Recession, when the economy fell off a cliff. They entered the job market when jobs were scarce, leading to lower pay and, often, less desirable jobs. They graduated from college with crushing student debt; according to Edvisors, in 2015, average student debt reached an all-time high of $35,000.
So, many Millennials are stuck in low-paying, non-rewarding jobs with a ton of debt.
Now, that might not seem the best situation in which to become your own boss, but there’s good reason to bet on Millennial entrepreneurs. They’re the first fully-digital generation, growing up alongside the Internet. They use social media like crazy, and they’re the ones most likely to be able to succeed at using the Internet to find customers or conduct a crowdfunding campaign to help get their companies funded.
Millennials are young, enthusiastic, and energetic, and contrary to common perception, willing to work hard. Many do not yet have family obligations, giving them more time to devote to getting a company off the ground. And they want to align their careers with their values while still having flexibility in their own lives.
That’s why certain types of small businesses are particularly well suited for Millennials:
Socially responsible businesses. Many Millennials want their work to make a difference in the world, not just a difference in their bank account. Young entrepreneurs look at problems such as climate change, global poverty, hunger, and see opportunities to create sustainable businesses. For example, many startups have come up with innovative ideas for recycling waste into useful products, such as Hungry Harvest, a company founded by Millennials, which diverts “cosmetically challenged” fruit and vegetables from landfill and delivers them to customers’ doorsteps. It successfully pitched ABC’s Shark Tank in 2016.
Business ideas for the socially-conscious Millennial include developing vegan foods and meat replacements, selling alternative energy systems, distributing clean water systems in developing countries, building and manufacturing tiny houses for low-income people. To connect with others involved with socially-responsible business, check out organizations such as Conscious Capitalism, Social Venture Network, and Business for Social Responsibility.
Tech businesses. Millennial entrepreneurs are more likely than older business owners to gravitate toward tech businesses, according to Fundera, an online small business loan marketplace, especially in industries such as ecommerce, online services, creative marketing, and electronics.
Good small business sectors for the techie Millennial include ecommerce sites for apparel, apps of all kinds, wearable tech, online marketing, and perhaps less sexy, but always in demand—IT support and consulting.
Businesses that allow flexibility. Millennials grew up with a mobile device in their pockets, so they expect to work where they want, when they want. According to a study by Xero, the small business accounting software company, 79% of Millennial business owners say that having flexibility and work/life balance is how they measure the success of their company.
Good business ideas for the Millennial who values flexibility include freelance jobs with repeat clients, such as web design, video production, social media consultant, crowdfunding consultant, and copywriting.
Existing businesses owned by baby boomers. The boomers—the generation born after World War II but before 1965—are just about ready to retire. If they own small businesses, they’d prefer to sell those businesses, not simply close up shop. Buying an existing business may offer many advantages over building one from the ground up, such as having an established customer base, a desirable location, an existing and proven product, a great team, and equipment or other physical assets. Couple these advantages with the fresh ideas and energy that you, as a Millennial, can bring, and that can be a recipe for success.
Good small businesses for the Millennial to purchase include cafes or restaurants, hotels, construction companies, some retail, and many service businesses with strong customer bases.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2017
This article originally ran in USA Today on August 16, 2017