Every business owner has issues, no matter what their age, but I wondered: what are millennial entrepreneurs worried about this year? There are certainly a large number of business owners born between 1980 and the mid-2000s, which would make them between 18-34 years old. When you launch a business, there are many things to worry about. I wanted to highlight a few specific concerns of millennial entrepreneurs and offer some solutions.
You would think the generation who grew up with technology wouldn’t have an issue with it, but the young entrepreneurs I spoke with said otherwise.
Dimitri Semenikhin, the Founder of Yacht Harbour, said it’s a constant challenge to tweak continually social media marketing strategies to keep up with new platforms:
“Social media is continuing to change in 2016, [and] as new platforms such as Snapchat emerge, all of it becomes less measurable directly. This is a challenge for the new year as it will involve new marketing strategies.”
He says to counter this; brands have to work hard to build an audience and anticipate users flocking to new platforms early.
Grayson Ervin, Founder of CigarsFor.Me, says his technology frustration is aimed at ever-changing search algorithms, as well as limitations to email marketing.
“Internet businesses have collapsed overnight due to Google making changes to their search algorithm. All of a sudden their traffic disappears, and they wonder what went wrong. [Also] there have been businesses that generated the bulk of their sales through technologies that sent mass email blasts to purchased email address lists. The new law was put in place to ban these technologies, and those businesses were left without their primary sales channel,” he says.
To stay on top of technology changes, I suggest multiple touch points with your target audience so that if a marketing channel collapses, you are always ready to adjust quickly. Have at least two ways to engage your audience. That way a quick technology change can’t wipe out your business.
For millennials in technology industries, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. Robert Edell is the Founder and CEO of Servy, an app that lets customers provide feedback to restaurants.
“There are now millions of apps and an almost overwhelming amount of information out there regarding new products and services. It’s become difficult for brands to reach their audience and stand out amongst the competition.”
The solution is identified in your target niche markets pre-launch, and focus on reaching that core audience with relevant and valuable information that has nothing to do will selling. Then you will have built brand loyalty. Once you build trust the sales will come, and you’ll have brand ambassadors who will operate and an unpaid sales force.
- Online Retail
At one point, online retail was the exception, not the rule. Ervin, whose cigar store is exclusively online, is finding it harder to make a splash in an industry that’s getting more crowded.
“…With each year passing by, advances in technology are making it easier for anyone and everyone to open an online store. These advantages bring in much more competition. The more competition we have, the harder it is to get our store in front of our targeted consumers.”
To counter this, Ervin says his company built a custom cigar recommendation engine, which is the only one on the Internet.
But it’s not just the little online retailers that are giving millennial entrepreneurs ulcers. Candice Galek, CEO & Founder of Bikini Luxe, says Amazon is keeping her up at night.
“My biggest concerns for 2016 are the growth of monster websites such as Amazon, who are taking over a large part of online shopping.”
Rather than participate in a race to the bottom for the lowest price on bulk items sold on Amazon, she chooses not to sell there, and stocks limited edition pieces from brands who also do not believe in selling in bulk.
- Perceptions of Millennials
While some of these concerns are shared by entrepreneurs of every age, this one is specific to this age group.
Angelique Pivoine, the owner of Goodthinkingagency.com, says being a Millennial means most of her clients think she is entitled. “I’m a Millennial, and over the past few years, the media has not been kind towards my generation. So I need to battle against two misconceptions: 1. I’m too young to be good at my job, and 2. I’m too young to know what hard work and professionalism are.”
Pivoine says these misconceptions limit her client base to those who are her age or those who are much much older.
I must admit that as a Generation Xer, I have certainly gotten concerned about Millennial entrepreneurs attitudes, work habits, and premature concern with their exit strategy and their 10X multiple, but I was also 26 when I started my first business. I remember what it was like to be underestimated as young, woman-owned business in the male-dominated industry. I was a perceived as aggressive, brash and arrogant. And looking back on it, I was probably all of those things at one point, until I got their right mentors and opportunities to get exposure. So this advice is heartfelt.
Yes, Millennials you are amazing. You are more talented and skilled with technology than any other generation before you, but soft skills still matter. Look to learn in all situations. Spend time being more interested than interesting. Try always to present yourself as coachable. Let your work product speak for you. You will need to work twice as hard to overcome the stigma and brand that is Millennial. But I have dealt with many of these same issues and have done a great job overcoming them, and you will too.