Why Millennials Prefer to Work for Themselves

Though many writers have written extensively about Generation Y’s supposed inability to hold jobs (take this article for example), data shows that such claims aren’t painting the full picture: it’s not that Millennials are too lazy to be efficient workers but they rather prefer to work for themselves.

According to the data, about half to two-thirds of Millennials in the United States are interested in entrepreneurship, and more than a quarter (27%) of them are already self-employed. These young people are either starting their own small businesses or becoming freelancers. They have no interest in working their way up the corporate ladder or ‘paying their dues,’ as many baby boomers expect them to.

So, why are so many young people turning to entrepreneurship?

Millennials Recognize the Instability of the Workplace

In her book Upstarts! author Donna Fenn writes that Generation Y approaches entrepreneurship as a lifestyle freeing them from the unstable nature of working for someone else. She writes that Millennials are familiar with the instability of the workforce and business scandals as they’ve observed many of their parents, relatives, and neighbors experience layoffs and financial distress throughout their lives. With the most recent Great Recession, which resulted in high unemployment rates, many Millennials want to create their own job security by making opportunities for themselves.

Millennials Value Individualism and Passion

Part of the reason why so many Millennials are interested in entrepreneurship is because they value individualism and passion in work and life, the report states. Their idea of work is different from that of their parents. To them, work should not be something that only puts money on the table. Rather, work is something that has the potential to give life meaning, excitement, and happiness. The report says that many young people try to identify something they’re passionate about as early as possible so they can incorporate it into their careers. Additionally, young people are more interested in choosing a path for themselves rather than having someone else tell them what to do.

The Digital Age Makes Entrepreneurship Easier and Cheaper

The digital age has made it much easier for anyone – regardless of gender, race, and age – to become an entrepreneur. It has created opportunities for new types of businesses that aren’t as expensive as traditional businesses to operate, such as online shops (you can now set one up at Etsy or Ebay), blogging, and Internet writing. Additionally, the digital age has eliminated gatekeepers for many industries, like publishing for instance, which eradicates the steps towards starting a business that are created by gatekeepers. All this being said, the digital age has made entrepreneurship a less risky venture because, in addition to the lower cost of starting online businesses, the information available online makes it easier to learn about entrepreneurship and perform market research.

Since startups are essential for job creation, the report calls Millennials’ interest in entrepreneurship a positive thing for the economy. Every Millennial’s business venture is an opportunity to reverse the declining trend of business startups, give people work, and more effectively spearhead the economic recovery. 

Image courtesy of Creative Commons