5 March 2024

Jason Dorsey from GenHQ.com: 61% of Millennials See Entrepreneurship as More Stable Than Jobs

By Ronald Smith

Last month, America’s SBDC and The Center for Generational Kinetics conducted an intriguing study called America’s Voice on Small Business. If you’re interested, you can find infographics and download the report for free here (no need to register).

Want to Know What’s Making Millennials Choose Entrepreneurship?

I’m Jason Dorsey, one of the co-founders of the Center for Generational Kinetics and an expert on studying millennials. I’d like to share with you some of the survey’s key findings, specifically what’s driving millennials towards entrepreneurship and how their journey differs from their parents’ and grandparents’.

I’ve got a modified version of our chat right here. If you want to catch the entire conversation, just click on the video or audio players down below. By the way, I had a chat with Tee Rowe, the CEO of America’s SBDC, about how the survey findings will influence their support and help for young entrepreneurs. I’ll be posting that discussion soon!

So, could you tell me a bit about yourself?

Jason Dorsey: I’m Jason Dorsey, the president and co-founder of the Center for Generation Kinetics, the top Millennial’s Research Firm worldwide. We’ve been in the business for about seven years now, and we’re excited to say that we have around 200 clients this year. It’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come! Our clients come from all corners of the globe, which is really cool. Before starting this firm, I did a bunch of other cool stuff like writing books, appearing on TV shows, speaking at events all over the world, and even starting my own companies. I’m really passionate about the topics we study, so it’s been a perfect fit for me.

USamerica.US: Can you tell us a bit about the survey you conducted with the ASBDC folks?

Jason Dorsey: We’ve all been talking a lot about how different generations approach entrepreneurship, but it’s surprising that there isn’t much data to back it up. Everyone has their own opinions, right? People say things like Oh, millennials are like this, and baby boomers are like that, but the truth is, we don’t have any real, solid data to support those claims. We need statistically valid data that accurately represents the entire population of the United States. When I study millennials, I want to be confident that the data I’m looking at truly reflects who they are, rather than just some unreliable survey posted on a random website.

When it all boils down, what really matters is education, access, and yes, even money. Having access to funds is a major hurdle. It’s easy to say, I want to start my own business, but then you come face to face with the nitty-gritty and think, Whoa, how do I actually do that? And where am I going to get the money from?

I came across a pretty surprising discovery, which is important when you consider the big picture. Remember, we’re not just talking about millennials here, we’re talking about every generation. So, get this: we found that a whopping 34% of all Americans have worked in a small business at some point in their lives. Now, that’s a significant number.

When I think of small businesses, I often picture them as economic drivers or maybe even as the friendly mom-and-pop shop or the cozy bakery around the corner. But what I didn’t realize is that small businesses actually employ one out of every three people in America. It’s not the big companies that dominate the job market, it’s these smaller ones.

This realization is quite exciting for me. And speaking of millennials, let me clarify something. Millennials, in the U.S., are actually older than what most people think. You see, many people believe that millennials are just 25-year-olds with saggy pants, living with their parents, and refusing to work unless they get promoted right away. But that’s just a myth, it’s not true.

Here’s an interesting fact: millennials make up the largest generation in the United States’ workforce. Not many people are aware of this.

USamerica.US: Seriously?

Jason Dorsey: Can you believe it? People think we don’t have any money, that we’re all unemployed and broke. But guess what? Millennials are actually going to spend more money than any other generation in the U.S. this year. It’s a total myth versus reality situation. And here’s the interesting part: almost half of all millennials in America, that’s about 40 million of us, want to start our own businesses in the next three years. It’s not just talk, we actually want to take the plunge and be our own bosses.

USamerica.US: So, are millennials going into different types of businesses compared to their parents and grandparents?

Can you believe it? The idea of being a freelancer and running your own business on the side is completely normal for us millennials. But for other generations, it’s something they had to learn and adapt to. It’s a totally different way of thinking than how they were raised. It’s not like owning a traditional business, but we’re impressed by how well they’re doing. They’re making good money and creating jobs. They’re doing all these amazing things, just without the huge expenses. It’s no surprise that we millennials are more open to starting these low-cost, on-demand businesses. It’s just the way we roll!

USamerica.US: Absolutely.

Jason Dorsey: So here’s the thing – millennials are actually getting older than you might think. It’s interesting because people often say, Wow, we’ve been talking about millennials for so long! Well, the truth is, we’ve been talking about them for a long time because they’ve been around for a while. Believe it or not, they’re now 39 years old. The oldest millennials in the United States will be turning 40 this year. And most people don’t even realize that.

USamerica.US: They’re right in the middle of their adult lives.

I’m Jason Dorsey, and here’s what’s interesting: Some of us millennials are starting to grow facial hair. It’s a sign that we’re getting older. By the way, millennials are the people born up to 1995. I know we have a lot of viewers today who sell things to millennials. But here’s the thing: there’s a big difference between millennials and the next generation, Gen Z. Gen Z doesn’t remember 9/11 because they were too young when it happened. If 9/11 has always been something you learn about in history class, then you’re Gen Z, not a millennial. It’s an important distinction to make.

Now, let me tell you what caught my attention in this study. It’s really exciting! 61% of all millennials believe that it’s safer to have your own business than to work for someone else. That’s a big statement, and it shows that millennials value job security.

And guess what? USamerica.US: You agree with me, don’t you?

Let’s talk about serving millennials. How can we teach them in a way that they’ll really connect with?

I’ve discovered something interesting: millennials learn best when things are visual. It’s like they’ve been trained to learn through YouTube.

That’s the resource I rely on the most for learning. Here’s the thing: any company, no matter how big or small, can start creating their own training videos. All you need is a smartphone and some filming skills. You can even watch interviews like this one to learn. But here’s the real deal: when it comes to putting what you’ve learned into practice, that’s when you might need someone in person, like a mentor from America’s SBDC. Because let’s face it, things don’t always go as planned. And when that happens, you need to know what to do. That’s where a lot of millennials struggle. They haven’t faced much adversity yet, and they haven’t honed their problem-solving skills. It’s all because they lack experience.

Without experience, it’s really tough to succeed, no matter how many videos you watch.

This interview is part of our One-on-One Interview series with brilliant thinkers. The transcript has been edited for this publication. If it’s an audio or video interview, simply click on the embedded player above or subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher to listen.