My generation is the generation of entrepreneurship. Its never been easier
or more affordable to start your own business. I started my first business when
I was only nine and I was competing globally before I could even spell the word
entrepreneur. The Internet has opened more doors than we could have ever imagined
ten years ago and the future is just as unpredictable.
Your Rolodex® has been replaced by social networks. Domain names have in many
cases replaced the small business on the street corner. And your résumé
has been replaced by your LinkedIn profile. I run my entire business from a laptop
and Internet connection. I can be in a hotel room or on the beach in Maui, and
my business functions just the same. My customers, employees and even business
partners may not know where Im connecting from. For the majority of my business
career, they didnt even know my age.
During my parents generation, it was unheard of to change jobs seven, eight
or nine times over a career. Today, thats the norm. The concept of graduating
from a top university and being guaranteed a job in the workforce is simply no
longer reality. The job market is more competitive than everespecially as
corporations downsize and outsource, and as more and more job-seekers compete
with MBAs and other top degrees.
Many young people are choosing to create their own lives through entrepreneurship.
And why not? A decade ago, to start a business youd have to lease retail
space, hire employees and pay overhead expenses, and youd still have access
to only a local market. Today, that picture couldnt be further from the
truth. Now you can start with an idea and $50 and create a business with access
to a global market. The Internet makes it easier than ever to reach targeted customers,
and social networks give you an instant outlet to promote your products or services.
Many refer to my generation as the entitlement generation. I beg to
differ. We know whats possible, we know what we want, and were willing
to do what it takes to reach our goals. Many large corporations are trying to
hire us to help them think of innovative ways to reach our peers. Its an
interesting opportunity for this generationbut honestly, many of us would
rather go to work for ourselves.
Entrepreneurship is in our blood, and its something no one can take away
from us. So, moms and dads, when your sons and daughters are heading off to collegeor
straight into the business worldand they tell you they are going to major
in entrepreneurship, dont worry. Chances are good, they know
what theyre doing.
CAMERON JOHNSON is twenty-three and has so far launched
over a dozen successful businesses. He is author of You Call the Shots
and was featured in the July/August 2004 issue of Networking Times.