Boomers Are More Entrepreneurial Than Gen Y’s

We all keep hearing that Gen Y’s are the “entrepreneurship generation,” but new research states otherwise. I worked with Monster.com on a new study focused on multi-generational worker attitudes to uncover the state of entrepreneurship through the eyes of different generations of workers. The report found that 41% of Gen X employees (ages 30-49) and 45% of Boomers (ages 50-69) consider themselves to be more entrepreneurial, compared to only 32% of Gen Y workers (ages 18-29 years). Previous research showed that 46% of Gen Y’s want to start a business within the next five years (Employers Insurance). They view themselves as less entrepreneurial because they aren’t in the best position to take a financial risk; they have the least amount of money but the most amount of debt from student loans. Many are still living with their parents and aren’t buying cars or homes.

Gen Y’s are also less risk averse relative to older generations. Only 28% of Gen Y identified with being high risk, while 40% of Gen X and 43% of Boomers felt the same way. Boomers have the most amount of wealth, connections and business experience; all needed in order to make a business successful. Boomers understand how to operate a business, as well as all of the business functional areas, including marketing and finance. Gen Y’s, typically employed at entry-level positions, aren’t as exposed to these areas, aren’t paid as much and don’t have the full Rolodex that older workers have already established. This puts them at a real disadvantage when it comes to entrepreneurship because it’s hard to get your hands on capital and have the right amount of confidence based on lack of experience.

Another focus area for study was on intrapreneurship. An intrapreneur is one who acts like an entrepreneur within a company, a hot topic in corporate America. Companies have to innovate to stay competitive and by leveraging their current talent to create new products and services, they can boost morale, save money and stay ahead of the competition. Nearly one third of all generations feel that they have the freedom, flexibility and resources to be an intrapreneur, and slightly more Gen Y respondents feel that they have their management’s support in becoming an intrapreneur. 42% of respondents stated they have opportunities to work on projects outside of their direct responsibility, but only 23% encourage workers to work on these projects.

We also looked at how different generations evaluate companies when it comes to deciding where to work. Location and healthcare are more important to Boomers, whereas Gen Y is more interested in advancement opportunities and skill development. 33% of Gen Y, followed by 22% of Gen X and 15% of Boomers select training and development opportunities as being most important when considering working for a company. Gen Y’s are looking for mentors and career opportunities, whereas older employees are looking for more stability. Gen Y’s are more likely to be bored at work and see their job as a stepping stone for another position elsewhere.

Overall, we found that companies aren’t as innovative as they should be. 38% of the total respondents said that their company was innovative and only 22% said they work in an entrepreneurial culture. This is a major opportunity area for companies who are losing market share right now. Gen Y employees are more likely to leave for other opportunities if they aren’t given room to grow and they are more likely to want to work at a company that innovates so they are more engaged.

View the INFOGRAPHIC on Monster.com

Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. His new book, a New York Times best seller, is called Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press) and his previous book, Me 2.0, was a #1 international bestseller.

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  • Todd Bishop

    It’s interesting to see how a societal entitlement to a strong family unit, high emphasis on fundamental religious worship, political and social hypocrisy, deliberate or innocently driven ignorance, and the honorable trait of greed in the veil of progress is the machine that breeds success in America.

    Perhaps if Gen-Yers like me followed suit, we too would become the most entrepreneurial and economically sound generation. Unfortunately millenials are lead by their God-given instincts and parental teachings of status-quo too much to understand that raping the earth, taking over foreign entities, and spreading themselves abroad the world is historically and traditionally the most honest form of national and economic security. *harsh sarcasm for those who can’t think.

    Some millennials are too obedient to tradition, establishment, and authority to succeed in this dog eat dog world, they don’t have the balls or lack of a vision for the future, or empathy necessary to tax their future grand kids to realistically thrive (in fact, due to a growing population and financial concerns, they may as well not have any children), and thus they will have no futures because they are content or else compelled to trust their masters like the loyalists did to the taxing and oppressive British Monarchy. Family is important, right?

    What’s more, they have the whole of humanity’s work and progress at their finger tips, and they are socially driven and expected to look of photos of cats.

    As a millennial, I echo the same message the boomers echoed… we can’t live a double standard. As Benjamin Franklin so eloquently echoed: join or die.

    The only valid option for economic and political freedom is to live free as an outcast… or die with an ignorant and self-absorbed society driven by a desire to party and drink themselves to death with self-centered idolatry and though a profession of progress, none whatsoever.

    All is fair in love and war. Only the good die young.

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