Entrepreneurship has been in a slow decline over the past thirty years in America, according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution. Today, more businesses are failing than being created, as this graph shows.
But Millennials may be the generation to change this decline.
The National Journal reports that in 2011, 29% of all entrepreneurs were between twenty and thirty-four years old, and Millennials launched nearly 160,000 start-ups each month that year.
Is it possible that Millennials might bring back the entrepreneurial spirit?
Millennials and the Entrepreneurial Spirit
William Deresiewicz writes in the New York Times that the hero of the Millennial generation is the entrepreneur. He explains why:
The small business is the idealized social form of our time. Our culture hero is not the artist or reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur. (Think of Steve Jobs, our new deity.) Autonomy, adventure, imagination: entrepreneurship comprehends all this and more for us. The characteristic art form of our age may be the business plan.
Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration — music, food, good works, what have you — is expressed in those terms.
Every generation of youth culture has defining characteristics, and for today’s youth, one characteristic is a strong passion for creativity in the form of entrepreneurship, with the statistics to back it up.
According to data published in Relevant magazine’s June/July print issue,
- 51% of Millennials plan to start a business within five years.
- 42% of college freshman in 2012 said “influencing social values” was “essential” or “very important.
- 5,000 + courses in entrepreneurism were offered in 2012, compared with only 100 offered in 1970.
Other sources report similar findings:
- Entrepreneurism and marketing are the top majors for Millennials (Payscale’s 2013 Generation at Work Report).
- Millennials rate working for themselves as an important career priority—higher than any other generation (Barna FRAMES).
- Nearly one-third of Millennials say the freedom to take risks in their work as important to them (32%) compared to an average of 25% among all generations (Barna FRAMES).
Why the shift? Some attribute a change in career values. Twenty-somethings today are more interested in meeting personal goals and values in their careers over salary, benefits, and job security, and starting a business can help them do that. Technological advances and online crowdfunding resources like Kickstarter also encourage the entrepreneurial culture of young adults across the world.
A Spirit We Can All Embrace
The entrepreneurial spirit of the Millennial generation celebrates values Christianity holds dear: risk taking (leaps of faith), creativity (Imago Dei), and impacting the world for greater good (kingdom advancing).
But of course, not all Millennials can or will be self-employed, and not all of us are Millennials. However, we can all learn something from this innovative trend if we recognize that the entrepreneurial spirit can be part of any job.
We always have opportunities at work (and outside of work) to trust God in taking more calculated risks, to create something where there was once nothing, to initiate a project, to improve a process, or to solve problems.
This is the entrepreneurial spirit that God has designed us for. How can you be more entrepreneurial in your day to day life? How can you encourage others around your to be more innovative?
The entrepreneurial spirit of the Millennial generation is something we are all meant to embrace.
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