Generation Z, the “internet generation” , includes those born between 1994 and 2010 — a group that’s comprised of high school students and younger, and is poised to become the most entrepreneurial generation we’ve ever seen. Research shows that these kids are digitally sophisticated, socially conscious, collaborative, and eager to build a better world. In fact, we don’t know enough about Gen Z yet, but we know a lot about the global connectivity, high level of technological development and open environment in which they are growing up. Gen Z kids grow up in a turbulent and rapidly changing world, discussions around global warming, climate change, economic turmoil. This environment certainly influence their mindset and, surprisingly or not, making it more entrepreneurial.
Gen Z care about global problems of the world and seek ways to solve them through setting up new entrepreneurial ventures, despite of their very early age. It is interesting to notice that 60% of them seek jobs that have a social impact, and 72% of them want to start their own business. Gen Z is certainly an entrepreneurial! Not only because of the global offer of full-time jobs is declining, but also because these “kids” love innovating and are able to live in uncertainty. These are the two very basic traits of every entrepreneur.
The new generation of very young entrepreneurs isless focused on one task. They jump easily from one idea to another, from doing one thing to the next one. Gen Z are impatient – their “multi-tasking” behavior is often criticized by adults. But let’s not forget that their reality is also digital and virtual. They look at the world through glasses, screens, tablets. They understand images more than words. Their handwriting is replaced with buttons. They play with multiple devices online all the time. This is why their entrepreneurial thinking is very much connected with Internet. They are born with technologies, surrounded by media and screens. Watch the short video A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work – a great example of how kids approach the world nowadays.
Gen Z entrepreneurs are highly collaborative, and concepts such as crowdsourcing and open platform education are seen as the obvious and most efficient way to solve problems.
Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, and Randstad, the third-largest HR services and staffing company in the United States, completed in September 2014 the first worldwide study to focus on the workplace preferences of both Generation Y (ages 21 to 32) and Generation Z (ages 16 to 20). Key takeaways from the findings show:
- Gen Z has more of an entrepreneurial spirit – 17% of Gen Z vs. 11% of Gen Y wants to start a business and hire others.
- For Gen Z, it’s not about the money … yet. Only 28% of Gen Z said money would motivate them to work harder and stay with their employer longer, as opposed to 42% of Gen Y.
- Gen Z prefers face-to-face communication over technology. Gen Z grew up with technology, yet 53% percent prefer in-person communication over tools like instant messaging and video conferencing.
Gen Z entrepreneurs has much better and faster access to informational resources. They can easily learn how to open a business, where to approach a mentor for a new entrepreneurial idea, where to seek financing for a new venture.Many of these resources are free and the Gen Z has an ongoing access to them through tablets, mobile devices and computers. Dan Schawbel, founder of research firm Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself, says: “Generation Z has everything at its finger tips. You can start taking classes online or connecting with experts before you’re 10 years old. Teenagers are now giving influential TED talks, building their reputation and networking before they have even left school. The majority of them would rather be entrepreneurs than employees.”
An important trait of entrepreneurs is to learn from failures. Gen Z can afford to fail – they are young enough that when failing, they can easily start again and again–they still have a lot of time ahead!
The new very young entrepreneurs have the privilege to create teams online by bringing together people from all over the world and to still work from home (or even from the nearest Internet café).They have a much higher tolerance for diversity and are much more able to work in a multicultural environment.
Gen Z are social entrepreneurs – two thirds of under 17-year-olds want to have an impact on the world with their jobs, compared to just a third of the generation before. They are not necessarily driven by money and profit – their motivation is to change the world, to make it a better place, to solve a social problem, to help others. They like volunteering and they use their brains to solve social problems. Examples include:
- 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban and survived to become an activist.
- Logan Laplante, 13, who has shaken up debate in the education sector by promoting his concept of ‘hackschooling’: breaking from the structure of organised education.
- 19-year-old journalist Rene Silva, from Brazil who has already published his first book, having set up a newspaper at the age of 11, and live-tweeted a police raid on his neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro at 17.
Gen Z, if hired, expects an “intrapreneurial” climate in the organization- high level of flexibility, open-minded executive management style, innovative climate, opportunities to create, laboratory-style of work. They want to be leaders, even at very early ages – they want that their voice is heard. They get angry if their ideas and behaviour are called “childish” – they want to be considered very seriously.
These “kids” nowadays mentors adults. They give advises, they have strong opinion, they shape the reality around. Nick D’Aloisio,who sold his mobile news application Summly to Yahoo for $30 million last year says: ‘I think some entrepreneurs focus too much on the idea, but not enough on the planned implementation or quantifying the success of their solution. There are so many resources available online that the primary goal of someone wanting to succeed should be to teach themselves all of the necessary skills e.g programming, business development, design, marketing etc. Be fearless and don’t be afraid of failure. There is no better way to learn than through trial-and-error.” D’ Alloisio is one of the youngest self-made millionaires ever.
A new survey from Northeastern University reveals that members of “Generation Z are highly self-directed, demonstrated by a strong desire to work for themselves, study entrepreneurship, and design their own programs of study in college. “A new generation of Americans is on the rise: highly entrepreneurial, pluralistic, and determined to take charge of their own futures,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun. “Those of us in higher education must listen to this next generation and enable them to chart their own paths, gain valuable experience, and become the leaders of tomorrow.”
Here are other stunning examples of the youngest entrepreneurs of the Planet:
- Linda Manziaris, the 14-year-old social entrepreneur and founder of Body Bijou and this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Startup Canada Awards.
- Flynn McGarry was on Time magazine’s 25 most influential teens. At the age of ten, she wanted to cook and began practicing his knife skills afterschool. Soon after she started creating dishes, simple at first, for a few of his mother’s friends. At eleven came the purchase of Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry cookbook, then Grant Achatz’s Alinea. The influence was immediate. Flynn’s dish components became more complicated, sous vide cooking was adopted and tweezers were now a must for plating. By twelve, the number of courses and guests had doubled at what was now called EUREKA, a supper club operating out of his mother’s home in Studio City.
- Jack Andraka created his potentially revolutionary pancreatic cancer detection tool that had eluded pharmaceutical companies and prominent researchers. Using information he found on Google and Wikipedia (which he calls “a teenager’s best friend”), Andraka, who lives in Anne Arundel County, came up with an idea for a diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that he says is 168 times faster, 400 times more sensitive and 26,000 times more economical than the medical standard. His life slogan is “Make something cool….and change the world!”.
- Moziah Bridges is the founder of Mo’s Bows, a company that was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. Bridges learned how to sew from his grandmother at 11 years old. He couldn’t find fun and cool bow ties, so one day he decided to use his Granny’s scrap fabric to make and sell his own, selling them on Etsy. Eventually his products were distributed in several boutiques, earning him over $30,000 in revenue.
- Mark Bao has founded 10 tech startups before age 20. He is interested in “how we can use behavioral science as a way to explore anything. Behavioral economics has made a remarkable impact. A similar impact could be made by combining behavioral science with political science, or anthropology, or public health”. Mark sold ThreeWords.me, which had millions of page views, to “dotcom mogul” Kevin Ham. Bao also was the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of a venture-backed company, Onswipe.
- Toronto-based Young Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker, Kelly Lovell was announced this year as a Finalist for Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the prestigious Women in Business Stevie Awards. Lovell Corporation, a company Lovell founded at 19, already holds an impressive portfolio of four companies, a pending patent and a celebrity media series. Her work spans across 6 different industries including media, technology, education, entrepreneurship, marketing, and communications.
Very impressive, isn’t it? Look further at these resources: articles and videos. They will give you a good understanding of the mindset of Gen Z entrepreneurs:
- Generation Z: The kids who’ll save the world? – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/giving/generation-z-the-kids-wholl-save-the-world/article20790237/?page=all
- A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work – (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXV-yaFmQNk
- Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other –http://www.alternet.org/books/alone-together-why-we-expect-more-technology-and-less-each-other
- Growing up Digital – http://www.grownupdigital.com/archive/
- Don Tapscott online community – http://dontapscott.com/
- Adora Switak (video): “What adults can learn from kids” – http://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak?language=en
- Will Generation Z Disconnect? http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-11-18/will-generation-z-disconnect
- Gen Y and Z – Global Work Expectation study – http://millennialbranding.com/2014/geny-genz-global-workplace-expectations-study/
- Why Gen Z” May Be More Entrepreneurial than “Gen Y” – http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231048
- What Generation Z Entrepreneurs Are Like – http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/09/02/what-generation-z-entrepreneurs-are-like/
- Generation Z Teens Describe Themselves Entrepreneurial, Self-directed – http://diverseeducation.com/article/68004/
- Gen Z Is Coming: How Will It Change The Business? http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/marcus-jewell/generation-z-is-coming-home_b_5691421.html
- Gen Z Has Arrived: Get to Know Them – http://xyzuniversity.com/2014/03/gen-z-has-arrived-get-to-know-them/