There is a big hairy monster attacking Millennials and keeping them from starting businesses. This monster crushes dreams in its wart-covered hands. It laughs and laughs as the shards of crushed dreams slide through its fingers.
This monster isn’t beatable though. Millennials just need some practice and some tenacity. By fighting back, little by little the monster gets smaller and smaller until… poof! it’s gone.
What is this monster? Debt.
Here’s some evidence from a recent NY Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/business/smallbusiness/for-young-entrepreneurs-college-debts-can-snuff-out-start-up-hopes.html?mwrsm=Email):
Arnobio Morelix, a senior research analyst with the Kaufmann Foundation, co-wrote a study with E. J. Reedy that found that the rise in student debt in recent years coincided with a decline in start-ups.
The study found that fewer young people were entering the world of entrepreneurship. The share of new entrepreneurs in the 20- to 34-year-old age group fell to 25 percent in 2014, from nearly 35 percent in 1996.
Total student loans rose from around $510 billion in 2007 to more than $1.3 trillion today. Despite an uptick in recent years, “overall start-up activity for adults under 35 years of age has been on the decline” since 1996, Mr. Morelix found.
But it isn’t just student debt. There are even scarier debt monsters out there, especially credit cards.
Is entrepreneurship dead or dying for those under 35 right now? I don’t think so. Here are 5 of the hundreds of reasons why.
1. Personal experience: I left college in debt. I worked for 3 years before the financial crisis hit and I left my day job to start a business. I was still paying off those loans. I went even further in debt to get the business going. We opened when I was 26. Today, at 32, I’m debt-free. I probably could’ve been debt free faster. More on that when we get to #5.
2. Minimalism is trending: Here’s a quotation from a September 2016 Forbes article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahweinswig/2016/09/07/millennials-go-minimal-the-decluttering-lifestyle-trend-that-is-taking-over/#2d36c7654c1a), “Retail expert, Robin Lewis, of The Robin Report, explained the consequences of millennial factors, ‘This is a generation that is bigger than the boomers in population, but their wallets are smaller, and they are more into the style of life than the stuff of life. This is a big threat to retail. They’re not into a lot of shopping.’ “ It goes on to talk about purchasing experiences over stuff: “Seventy-eight percent of millennials—compared to 59% of baby boomers—‘would rather pay for an experience than material goods,’ “ Sure there’s still the risk of spending too much on experiences (beer, coffee, travel, etc.) but I’ve found that my minimalism in stuff tends to translate into minimalism in other areas of my life too and results in less spending overall. I bet that’s true for at least some Millennials.
3. Independent Contractors are trending: According to a 2014 study commissioned by the Freelancers Union, 53 million Americans are independent workers — about 34 percent of the total workforce. This number is expected to be 50 percent by 2020. That means, in order to thrive in a world with fewer employees, Millennials need to learn the skills of entrepreneurship: proposals, planning, accounting, building a team, etc. Plus, the majority of us will need to figure out our own health care and retirement plans.
4. Money is a tool not an end game. This is such an important idea. Money is a tool not an end game. Millennials care more about living a life that matters and less about how much money they have. Money is our tool to change the world. Making a difference is our end game. Money comes and goes. Living life on our own terms is a requirement. Entrepreneurship is still the #1 way to have the freedom and flexibility to do just that. Millennials are increasingly attracted to entrepreneurship because of the freedom it offers.
5. The Momentum Effect: Paying off debt gets easier and easier over time. I’ve heard so many stories about Millennials taking their debt seriously and getting debt free really quickly. This was true for me too. I paid minimums for years. When I finally said, “I’m going to get serious and be out of debt within 2 years,” I ended up doing it in less than 1.5 years. More and more Millennials are learning the momentum effect and making financial freedom happen.
If you’re a Millennial in debt, I’d love to help you strategize how to gain financial freedom. Sign up for a 30-minute strategy session. It won’t cost you a dime but it might start to build your momentum.