In the new information age, people often take for granted the opportunities available to them—none more so than those of us in the United States. Millennials are often viewed as the epitome of this culture of entitlement. People call us everything from lazy to unprofessional. While I acknowledge our generation has its blemishes, I’d like to propose that we also have far more potential than we’re typically credited with. Given that we do have available to us more information in our smartphones than what was available in the Library of Alexandria, it should be a simple conclusion that Gen Y has tremendous potential. The question is, what will we do with that potential?
Our passion for entrepreneurship is alive and strong, and I believe network marketing can be the vehicle to allow that entrepreneurial spirit to flourish.
In 1985 there were only 250 courses on entrepreneurship available. Today that number has increased to over 5,000 courses both online and on college campuses. More than 2,000 campuses across the United States offer entrepreneurial programs(1).
We’re all aware of the benefits of network marketing, such as giving people more freedom and a higher income potential, but an education in personal development is often overlooked as one of its major benefits.
Regardless of how many Millennials consider themselves entrepreneurs, more than any generation before are they seeking out higher education, which they acknowledge weighs them down with debt. (The average borrower with student loans owes approximately $30,000.)
If network marketers want to recruit us, they would do well to emphasize the benefits of an education in personal development as an alternative to a traditional four-year education for the entrepreneurial spirited looking for something different. After all, isn’t the whole point of being an entrepreneur to offer a solution to a problem?
Millennials view student debt as one of the largest problems facing their generation. Get this: 4 in 10 Millennials say they feel “overwhelmed” by debt–a number nearly double that of Baby Boomers!(2) You would think that as a generation coming of age with vast amounts of knowledge literally in the palm of our hands, the more entrepreneurial minded among us would jump on an opportunity to forgo their $100,000 education with the equivalent of what Matt Damon once called “$1.50 in late fees from the library.”
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone and my own personal affinity for the entrepreneurial mindset has everything to do with the way I was raised. The thought of being an employee has seemed foreign my entire life. However, put into context with what we know about Millennials, it’s important for older generations to understand just how many Millennials view themselves as entrepreneurs.
Gen Y is extremely entrepreneurial at heart. Every young person has dreams, but many people, often due to economic necessity, shrink their dreams to fit their reality as they grow up.
Millennials, however, are coming of age at a time when the overall standard of living is far higher than it was for past generations. Technology is advancing at a rate where computing power doubles every 18 months—a concept known as Moore’s Law. As a result, the demand on the dreamers in my generation to survive and provide is less prevalent than it has ever been.
This may sound a bit like a justification for laziness, but it’s quite the opposite. When I refer to dreamers, I’m talking about people who see themselves as entrepreneurs and have a strong desire to make a positive impact in the world.
A whopping 60 percent of Millennials consider themselves entrepreneurs. There are always those who fit into societal norms, but Millennials have largely decided they want more out of life than an education and a secure job climbing the ladder of corporate America.
A 2013 survey indicates that 71 percent of Millennials working a “regular” job wish to quit and start working for themselves. When asked what was behind this drive for self-employment, 69 percent said they wanted more freedom; 66 percent said the ability of being able to choose their own projects appealed to them; and 63 percent said it was the appeal of unlimited income potential(3).
A 2014 focus group showed that 84 percent of Millennials ranked “purpose” as the biggest reason for choosing their line of work(4). What this shows is that we are a generation that wants to improve our own lives by helping others—we’re purpose-driven entrepreneurs.
For a generation that has grown up having their daily lives affected by entrepreneurs the likes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Sean Parker, you can start to make sense of why so many Millennials see themselves as entrepreneurs and have a desire to buck the status quo. I believe network marketing is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
ZACHARY GAFFORD is a Millennial, social entrepreneur, and travel enthusiast who helps people better their own lives while nourishing orphans worldwide.
(1) Infographic: Millennial Entrepreneurship Ascending. Rasmussen College, 23 Sept. 2013.
(2) ”Millennials ‘overwhelmed’ by Debt.” CNN Money. Cable News Network, 11 June 2014.
(3) Infographic: Millennial Entrepreneurship Ascending. Rasmussen College, 23 Sept. 2013.
(4) Sellers, Patricia, Millennials Want This One Thing from Employers Comments. Fortune, 14 July 2015.