Get Ready for the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

1*yF7r6-jcxagoNouBLxZxNw.jpeg

Before the age of 20, Mark Bao had founded 10 technology startups. Recently, he sold ThreeWords.me — a site with millions of page views — to dot-com mogul Kevin Ham.

At the age of 17, Nick D’Aloisio sold his mobile news application Summly to Yahoo! for $30 million. While completing his high school degree, he is also working at Yahoo’s London office because Yahoo! will not let him work from home.

At the age of 16, Moziah Bridges was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank to present his company Mo’s Bows. After initially launching his business on Etsy, his products are now distributed in boutiques where he has sold over $600,000 in products.

These extraordinary young people are just a few examples of the tens of thousands of young people starting companies. And the millions who will eventually follow.

Research has shown that my generation has the potential to be the most entrepreneurial generation in history:

  • More Gen Zs (17 percent) than Gen Ys (11 percent) want to start their own business and employ others, according to a new study by Future Workplace and Randstad USA, a staffing organization in the United States
  • 72 percent of Gen Zs want to start their own business someday, according to research from Internships.com, whereas only 64 percent of Gen Ys said the same
  • 61 percent of high school students and 43 percent of college students said they would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee when they graduate college, according to a study documented by Forbes

And Mark, Nick, and Moziah only reaffirm this research.
 
But I know it’s not an easy road.

When I was a kid, society told me to follow my dreams. In elementary school, I was assigned to draw pictures of what I wanted to be when I grew up, to dream as big as I wanted to. I dreamed of

doing something I was passionate about, something that would impact others, something that would make the world a better place.

But as I grew older, the rhetoric about my goals began to change. In high school, society encouraged me to take as many Advanced Placement classes as I could, regardless of whether or not I found them interesting, in order to get into the best university. And once I was accepted into a top university, I was quickly advised to start taking pre-professional classes to prepare myself for the “real” world. In the “real” world that they spoke of, nobody followed their dreams. Rather, in the “real” world, people were told to sit in cubicles and work from 9 to 5, to stare at a computer screen for the majority of the day.

And part of that is because few people actually take the leap and start their own ventures.

We know what we want but it’s hard to see the path.

The share of people under 30 who own a business has fallen by 65 percent since the 1980s and is now at a quarter-century low, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Reserve data.

And according to the Small Business Administrationonly 2 percent of people of working age under 35 are self-employed.
 
There’s a disconnect between our aspirations as future entrepreneurs and our reality.

And I’m just as guilty as the rest of my Gen Z brethren.

I’m scared to potentially fail.

Again, it turns out I’m not alone.

More than 40 percent of 25-to-34-year-old Americans said a fear of failure kept them from starting a company in 2014; whereas, in 2001, just 24 percent said so.

So what gives? Is an entire generation of Zs destined to live a life in that boring cubicle despite our aspirations to be the greatest entrepreneurial generation in history? Am I going to be stuck working at a company that won’t let its employees use Facebook, where I have to have a badge with one of those retracting string things attached to my belt?

Don’t fear… there’s hope for us.

And my book is a story that showcases what I learned about the future of the Gen Z entrepreneur.

Over the past year, I set out on a journey to understand what made the “next generation” — which is typically described by experts as Generation Z — tick. I was curious to discover what made these young people who had already started ventures do it and what held others back. I was able to ask the questions I had — and reveal my own hopes, fears and dreams — to discover that the world for future Gen Z entrepreneurs is much more promising than I had even imagined.

To learn more about me, you can check out my personal website here, contact me at agh42@georgetown.edu, and follow me on Twitter here. To read more, you can buy my latest book on Amazon in paperback or Kindle here!