Last month America’s SBDC teamed up with research firm The Center for Generational Kinetics on an interesting study – America’s Voice on Small Business. You can check out infographics and download a copy of this free report here (no registration required).

What to Know What is Driving Millennials into Entrepreneurship?

Jason Dorsey, co-founder of the Center for Generational Kinetics and leading expert on researching millennials, shared with us some of the key findings of the survey, including what is driving millennials into entrepreneurship, and how their journey is different from their parents and grandparents’ journey.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full conversation click on the embedded video or audio players below. I also spoke with America’s SBDC CEO Tee Rowe on how the survey results will impact the organization’s efforts to provide guidance and assistance to millennial entrepreneurs. That conversation will be posted in the coming weeks.

Small Business Trends: Maybe you can give me a little bit of your personal background.

Jason Dorsey: Yeah. Sure. I’m the president and co-founder of the Center for Generation Kinetics we’re the number one Millennial’s Research Firm in the world. We started the firm about seven years ago and this year, for context, we’ll have about 200 clients, which is pretty wild. All around the world. Before that, I’d written a lot of books, been on tons of TV shows, spoken all over the world, started my own companies and just really passionate about the topics. Kind of a perfect storm for the study.

Small Business Trends: Tell us a little bit about this survey with the ASBDC folks.

Jason Dorsey: There’s been a lot of conversation around entrepreneurship by generation but,not much data, which is pretty surprising. Everybody thinks they know, right? “Oh, millennials are this and baby boomers are this,” but there’s no real data and certainly not what we would consider, statistically valid data, which means it accurately represents the U.S. Census. I want to look at millennials and have a high level of confidence that when I’m looking at the data, I know it really represents them, not just some silly survey somebody puts on their website.

We surveyed 1,000 people across America, weighed it to the Census and really said, “What are the drivers of small business? What does it look like by generation?” Even things like gender and geography. Trying to understand what’s going on and so for us, when it came down to millennials, there was some pretty shocking findings and when we saw those, were like, “Yes!” ‘Cause you never know. We never know what we’re gonna find, and the study really showed that millennials do have this entrepreneur mindset, this desire, this drive to own their own businesses. In fact, more than any other generation, but there’s certain things that they’re looking for.

What it comes down to is education and access and even money. Access to capital is a huge issue. It’s very easy to say, “I wanna start my own business,” but then when you get into the details people are like, “Whoa well, I need to know how to do that and where am I gonna get the money from?”

One kind of shocking find, which is big picture because ‘remember, we’re not just talking about millennials, we’re talking about every generation; we found that about 34% of all Americans have worked in a small business in some point in their life, which is huge.

We think about small business frequently as this economic driver or maybe even the mom-and-pop mailing place down the street or a little bakery. We don’t realize that literally, one out of every three people in America has worked in a small business. We tend to think of big employers but that’s not really where the employment’s happening.

That was exciting for us and then in terms of millennials, and to clarify, I like to define millennials; millennials in the U.S. are older than most people think. Most people think millennials are 25 and their pants are falling off and they live with their mom and we don’t wanna work unless you’re gonna promote us the first week and a lot of that stuff is just myth. It’s not true.

We found that millennials are the largest generation in the United States’ work force. Most people don’t know that.

Small Business Trends: Really?

Jason Dorsey: They think we’re broke and unemployed. They think we don’t have any money and yet, millennials are gonna outspend every other generation in the U.S., this year. Again, myth versus reality and then, when you get into the actual study, what we found was that almost half of all millennials in America, about 40 million, say they wanna start their own business in the next three years. When you look at everything from the government policy conversation to banking to access to capital to all these other ways to raise money even, what you see is a generation that says, “We wanna own our own business.”

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