When I began working here at Franchise Direct, I became the new ‘Office Baby’.
At 22 years old, fresh out of university, I expected to be towards the lower end of the age spectrum, but not necessarily the youngest.
Young people are breaking into the professional scene more and more frequently these days, many of them in leadership roles.
Cynics will tell you it is because millennials are incapable of following directions or orders, possibly even disrespectful, and inflate their own self-worth to the point that they feel they must be in charge.
That’s not the whole truth, though. Yes, millennials grew up being told to constantly chase their dreams, that the sky is the limit, that there is nothing they cannot do if they put their mind to it and plenty of other clichés intended to inspire.
Having a generation of dreamers is not necessarily a bad thing.
For example, imagine elite level divers, who catapult themselves into water from 10 meters in the air, executing flips and spins as they fall. Most of the world’s greatest divers begin training — in diving, gymnastics, dance, or a related field — at such a young age that they don’t know they should be afraid. They haven’t been taught that what they are doing is dangerous or frightening, so they commit their all to it and, quite literally, dive in head first, fearlessly.
Millennials treat business ventures — and much of life — the same way. More so than any other generation, they have been taught not to fear failure or risk, but to embrace it and learn from it. This may make them seem reckless, but it also makes them capable of greatness. According to The Prime Minister’s Advisor on Enterprise’s latest report on small firms, 18-24 year-olds “are almost twice as likely as older age groups to say they intend to start a business in the next three years”.
Some might consider it scary or ill-advised to leave school at 16 to chase entrepreneurial dreams, but that’s what Christian Owens did, willing to take a chance and, possibly, fail. Luckily, he didn’t, working hard to found Paddle, which, according to startups.co.uk, provides clients with everything necessary in the sale of digital products.
So rather than count out young potential franchisees, remember that millennials have a lot of advantages as business owners.
Having been using social media for many years, millennials are also more intuitively able to keep up with current marketing trends and tactics, thus allowing their businesses to grow more rapidly. In a 2012 article entitled Social media's emerging importance in market research, published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, researchers reported that "social media have spawned a number of research techniques that overcome the problems that have started to affect the old techniques".
Not only are they more savvy with social media, but millennials have also been using it personally for much of their lives. This means they have expanded their market and audience bases more than would have been possible in the past. Through online events, organizations, groups and clubs, young people have made strong bonds with people they have never met face-to-face, but can assist in finding customers and spreading the word about a new business.
Though most millennials likely did not spend hours searching encyclopedias for one piece of information, they can be remarkably good researchers, given their grasp of the all-knowing internet. This would be incredibly beneficial when learning the area, market, and population interests for a new franchisee territory.
Perhaps one of the biggest complaints against millennials is that they are lazy or unmotivated. While they are arguably less likely to handle mundane tasks or jobs that disinterest them as well as others, they tend to work very hard for their passions; when starting a business, they will likely pick something about which they feel strongly.
Take, for instance, 22-year-old Simon Crowther. After a flood damaged his home in 2007, he discovered the Water-Gate barrier, available only in Canada. According to a story published on startups.co.uk, Crowther, then only 18, sought to become the exclusive UK distributor. Once he was granted the license, he established Flood Protection Solutions. He has already made quite a profit and is providing a necessary service for many.
According to Forbes millennials average only two years in a job before moving on. Rather than continually moving to find new opportunities, some would prefer to be the boss, capable of expanding to challenge themselves rather than having to move companies.
Coaching and leadership, rather than strict bossing, tend to work well for millennials. That fits excellently into many franchise models, as the franchisors provide extensive training, feedback and guidance at first, then step back and provide more gentle guidance/coaching afterwards.
So franchisors, don’t worry when queries and bids from millennials start pouring into your inbox — starting young just means they could become your longest-lasting franchisees ever!
Post by Anne Rowan