Every generation brings with it a unique perspective and experience – otherwise why would people keep coming up with names to describe them? So what can business owners or potential startup founders from other generations learn from millennials? By Carolin Lenehan
MONICA Wulff is a statistician, a startup founder, and a Gen Y millennial. But once you strip the labels away, she’s a young Australian businesswoman receiving kudos and recognition around the world for her work developing a reliable statistical base of knowledge about Australian startup founders and the enabling environment they need to sustain them.
As CEO and co-founder of Startup Muster – Australia’s most comprehensive survey into this burgeoning growth sector – Monica’s views on what can be done to help new startup businesses grow and prosper are both insightful and innovative.
Do it with Passion
“We haven’t had the hard times faced by previous generations. We haven’t had to grit our teeth and say I’m just going to do this job, even though I hate it. For us it’s, ‘I’m going to follow my passion, I’m going to follow my purpose, I’m going to work somewhere or on something that is unique to me, and from that, I will be able to make an income and a living’,” Wulff says.
For Monica, this was easy – she loved statistics, then she fell in love with the startup world. Startup Muster is the marriage of the two and she has no problem putting every ounce of her being into making it work.
If you’re going to go through the hard slog of a startup life then you need to be doing something that you’re passionate about.
“One of the first things new startups are told is to find your story,” Monica says. “You’ve got to have a problem that you’re solving. Unless you’re dedicated and in love with the idea, you’re not going to succeed and you won’t be believeable [to investors, customers etc].”
Get comfortable putting yourself out there: behave like a digital native
Living, eating and breathing your product and your brand 24/7 is essential – you never know where your next opportunity or investor might come from.
Millennials have an edge from growing up curating their personal brand on social media – with positive and negative personal consequences.
‘Go social’ with your business, but do it with purpose and integrity. Every post, every photograph, every event you report in from, all need to be carefully curated to leave an imprint of who you are, what you stand for and what you are achieving. The story you are telling through blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and WeChat all need to evoke aspirational feelings in your customers and clients – particularly if you are targeting millennials!
It’s not Entitled. It’s Entrepreneurial.
In her 2017 book, The Millennial Myth, Crystal Kadakia seeks to redefine the labels into business strategies that harness the millennial mindset:
“It’s not lazy, it’s productivity redefined.
It’s not entitled, it’s entrepreneurial.
It’s not hand-holding, it’s agility.
It’s not disloyal, it’s seeking purpose.
It’s not authority issues, it’s respect redefined.”
She has described millennials as enabled by the internet, enabled by STEM, and driven by YOLO (You Only Live Once).
Millennials like Crystal and Monica were at university during the Global Financial Crisis, and the recession that followed. Their generation will be the first to be less well-off than their parents.
“What came out of it was the mindset that there’s no such thing anymore as a golden handshake after 40 years with one company… We are working to have more ownership of our future. I’ve got a mission, and some would describe that as ‘entitled’,” Monica said.
AND REMEMBER . . . DON’T FEAR FAILURE
Tackle your new business with passion, drive and integrity. Nurture its public image, curate it carefully. Don’t fear criticism, use it to hone your product and build your defences. If you do fail, learn from it and wear it as a notch on your belt. Soon it will be the new black.