Millennial entrepreneurs really do want different things


Evan Spiegel

Steve Jennings/Getty

Evan Spiegel of Snapchat attends TechCruch Disrupt SF 2013 in San Francisco.

You've probably heard that millennials are different.


They are more likely to prefer cooking at home than their elders. They want to buy from and invest in companies that have a purpose and an eye on social good. They're over the idea of collecting stuff. You get the idea.

A lot of these points of difference owe their origin to the economic experiences of younger professionals. They probably started work just before, in the middle of, or right after the great recession. And as Tyler Cowen writes in "The Complacent Class," their "passions take forms other than those of the old climb-the-social-ladder variety."

The generational differences even extend to entrepreneurs, according to a HSBC study of 4,000 entrepreneurs. HSBC surveyed entrepreneurs with at least $250,000 in personal wealth in 11 countries.

It found that millennial entrepreneurs are much more likely than their older peers to be interested in bettering themselves, building a name for themselves, and having a positive impact in their community. For example, just 16.6% of US respondents in their 50s said they became an entrepreneur to have a positive impact in their community. The number is 28.5% for entrepreneurs in their 20s.


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Yes, some of that might just be due to the change in outlook that people experience between their 20s and their 50s. But other extracts from the report show that millennials are thinking differently on several fronts:

  • "49% of American entrepreneurs in their 20s say they went into business to be their own boss, this is substantially lower than the 64% of American entrepreneurs in their 50s."
  • "The Millennial generation of entrepreneurs in America is more focused on building their influence. For example, 47% said they were motivated to go into business by the desire to better themselves, 29% wanted to have a positive impact in their communities and 32% wanted to build a name for themselves. This compares to 43%, 17% and 19% of American entrepreneurs in their 50s respectively."

These millennial entrepreneurs also spend more time focused on strategy and managing the teams around them than the baby boomer generation, according to the research:

"Those from the Baby Boomer generation emphasize self-determination and personal profit. Millennial entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are placing more emphasis on the social capital required for successful entrepreneurship, such as relationship building and reciprocity."

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