by Gyawu Mahama, Social Media and Marketing Manager at Hiscox Small Business Insurance
National Small Business Week is not only the perfect time to reflect upon the major role that small business plays in our communities, but also marks an opportunity for aspiring small business owners to think about finally taking the proverbial leap and create a plan to turn their dreams into a reality.
Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation according to new population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. For this next generation of emerging entrepreneurs, the decision to become your own boss can be a risky one, but being courageous is the key ingredient to starting and sustaining a successful small business. In fact, Hiscox’s American Courage Index (ACI) found that business owners actually show higher levels of courage than the general population by a difference of 12 percent.
Despite some preconceived notions of millennials, the ACI data also found that this age group demonstrates courage and a willingness to take risks when it comes to stepping into the role of small business owner. Millennials are not only the most intellectually courageous generation, but also the most likely to have championed or introduced a new product line in the past year (53 percent) or plan to do so in the year ahead (51 percent).
American Courage Index survey respondents identified Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as the most courageous entrepreneurs of recent history. So how can millennials tap their inner courage and prepare to launch the next Microsoft or Apple? Hiscox has outlined the following tips for both current and aspiring business owners:
As a young small business owner, building your network is absolutely critical. Attend networking events where you can meet potential customers as well as others who have been successful in your industry. As you start out as a business owner, consider other small business owners as people to learn from rather than the competition. Learn from their mishaps and successes. As a millennial, your network often stems from your college relationships – play an active role in your school’s alumni network, and reach out to older alumni who own businesses for advice.
2. Professional development.
Without management or an HR department to keep you accountable for your professional growth, it’s critical that you proactively seek opportunities to expand your skillset and knowledge base on your own. Take an online class, attend a speaker series, and make sure you’re always up-to-date with industry trends by reading trade magazines.
3. Remember the Zen.
It can be especially difficult for business owners to separate their work life from their personal life. The connectivity created by our mobile devices makes turning away from work even tougher. Many millennials spend a lot of time on their phones – know when to disconnect when you need a break. You’ll return to work less stressed and ready to take on new challenges.
4. Take a Risk.
Millennials, who are experienced but still in the early stages of their careers, are in a unique position to take risks with limited consequences. If you’ve got a great idea for a startup, there is no better time than now to get it started, so be courageous and embrace the risk. But be smart about it. Protect your investment with liability insurance for small businesses. If you’re ever sued, you’ll be glad you did.
Courage is key in starting and maintaining a business – so be ready to take risks and grow from both your challenges and wins as a millennial entrepreneur. The experience you gain now will only help you as you progress into a seasoned small business owner.
Gyawu Mahama is Social Media and Marketing Manager at Hiscox Small Business Insurance. In this role Gyawu is responsible for driving social media engagement, publishing Hiscox’s award winning small business blog, and internal communications. Follow Gyawu at @GyawuTweets.