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Gen Z is the latest generation to appear on the scene. Articles note how this group is changing retail and the workplace through their unique perspective. As an entrepreneur and a millennial, I have been keenly interested in this next generation. During the past year, I’ve been mentoring many through internships and volunteer work.
Now, Gen Z, born between approximately 1994 and 2010, are putting their own spin on entrepreneurship. They are distancing themselves from the generation that came before them.
Based on my own experiences and interactions, here are five reasons why Gen Z is changing entrepreneurship.
The most entrepreneurial generation yet
As part of what had been previously termed the “most entrepreneurial generation,” I can see that Gen Z will far surpass myself and my peers. In the work I have done with high school and college students, I’ve found they are all entrepreneurial-minded with goals of running their own businesses. Research backs that up.
For example, a recent Gallup Student poll found that 40 percent of students surveyed from grades five to 12 stated they wanted to run their own business. Then, 24 percent said they have already started.
I have yet to meet one that wanted to work for an existing company, except to intern to learn some business skills. They also don’t want to run one company, but have many “irons in the fire.” I can relate to their desire. I am a serial entrepreneur with multiple companies. Yet, Gen Z has the desire to create multiple careers for themselves.
In changing entrepreneurship, their numbers will help forever change the work environment. The changes will create opportunities for new work arrangements. There will be collaboration between like-minded entrepreneurs. Gen Z’s changes to entrepreneurship will also bring challenges. These challenges include increasing competition among companies to acquire and retain talent, since so many will be working for themselves.
Higher and ongoing education plays a role
Some of my peers skipped college and went straight to work developing their startup. However, many still followed the traditional path. Now, they are laden with student debt that has left them struggling to finance their startups.
Gen Z has watched previous generations struggle. In response, they have developed their own solution for themselves and the generations that follow. Many entrepreneurial Gen Zers are working on their business idea while selectively choosing higher education. They are pushing for more free education opportunities, which has influenced some to offer free education.
Also, Gen Zers are driving the e-learning market to grow exponentially. Estimates from companies like Extole have Gen Z making up 40 percent of this learning platform by next year. This generation appreciates the need to grow their skill set and knowledge, but are not interested in accumulating debt to get it.
In changing entrepreneurship, Gen Z is proving that it’s possible to build a startup while expanding professional and personal development without significant debt. Examples include Coursera, EDX, and the Khan Academy, as well as Udemy and SkillShare.
In doing so, they may be changing the education system across the country. High schools are offering more classes in entrepreneurship, including the potential introduction of an advanced placement class in entrepreneurship, as well as college-credit classes for free within the four-year high school timeframe.
Social good goes mainstream
Entrepreneurship previously had been about profit and success, which is still a good and necessary result. However, Gen Z cares less about assets and ownership and more about freedom, experiences and equality.
Transforming the primary purpose of entrepreneurship may lead to more social issues finally getting the solution they deserve. When speaking with Gen Zers, their interest seems to be on finding ways to not waste things or spend unnecessarily even more so than my generation that grew up in recessionary periods.
Gen Z has also grown up in one of the most diverse societies and, along with millennials, has taken up the torch to provide more equality and acceptance of all types of people. In doing so, they are more interested in actions than just talking about diversity, making it the norm in their work and life.
An evolving state of mind
Thanks to Gen Z, entrepreneurship is expanding with this generation’s target areas of interest and passion. It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur, no matter what your age. This generation’s energy is infectious and has helped me reframe my own perception as a millennial.
Since working with Gen Z students, I’ve returned to college to top up my education, along with online course work. Also, I’ve spent more time on social projects designed to help make the world a better place. In all respects, I’m happy Gen Z is transforming entrepreneurship because it will only result in a more positive startup ecosystem.