You can’t really blame Millennials for wanting to be like Mark Zuckerberg. He made his own rules, changed the course of human interaction, and is now donating most of his fortune to charity – not bad for a guy who never had to conform to someone else’s dress code. According to “The Millennial Mind Goes to Work,” a survey conducted by Bentley University, some 66 percent of Millennials dream of starting their own business, compared to only 13 percent who aspire to be CEO of a corporation.
“While they know their chances of creating another Facebook are low, [Millennials] do think it’s fairly easy to create a cool startup,” says Fred Tuffile, Bentley’s director of Entrepreneurial Studies. “Millennials are realizing that starting a company, even if it crashes and burns, teaches them more in two years than sitting in a cubicle for 20 years.”
Translation: It’s not all about the money – or the glory. A full 96 percent of Millennials surveyed said they’d choose flexible work hours as a decisive benefit when choosing a job. Independence and creativity also make self-employment enticing, particularly as opportunities in the sharing economy expand. Whether young adults see self-employment as a stepping stone to larger entrepreneurial goals, or as a way to drive their own careers without a traditional boss or employer, helping young members survive self employment presents a unique opportunity for financial institutions.
- They need help with personal finance. Think it’s difficult to establish credit, stick to a budget or save for retirement on a steady paycheck? Try doing any of these things on a variable income. Self-employment also comes with the exciting new challenge of selecting your own health and disability insurance; covering taxes you never had as an employee; and fully funding your own retirement. Wondering how to engage meaningfully with young members? Start here.
- They need better transactions. When your paycheck arrives like clockwork via ACH, you may barely think about deposit convenience or speed. However, when you accept multiple types of payments, when client checks are sporadic, or when deposits are small and numerous, having a financial institution you can work with is beyond helpful. The same works when payments are outgoing: Being able to dispatch money reliably and in a hurry can be a big deal. Two technologies to consider: mobile check deposits and P2P payments in real time.
- They need credit. Full-blown entrepreneurs need full-blown business credit or venture capital. But solo entrepreneurs and beginners need basic access to credit in the form of overdraft protection and credit cards. Getting auto and home loans can be trickier for the self-employed as well. Can you help members navigate?
- They appreciate community. It’s lonely at the top, whether you’re at the top of a growing entrepreneurial company or atop your own solo practice. If your financial institution has the capacity to host networking events, promote small businesses via social media, provide ongoing mentorship or education, offer co-working space – really, anything that recognizes and supports the self-employed among you – your efforts will pay dividends. Not only do business owners appreciate the visibility, but your non-entrepreneurial members often enjoy learning about local companies as well.
Now here’s the kicker: Although a great majority of Millennials hope to start their own businesses someday, only a percentage of these actually will. Of those who do, not all will succeed and/or adopt self-employment as a long term lifestyle. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Speaking to Millennials’ entrepreneurial dreams, developing the products and services that cater to this lifestyle, and – most importantly – cultivating a truly consultative relationship with young members is a win, regardless of where Millennial members work. In this era of digital interaction, finding a human connecting point is gold. And having the personal finance tools, smart banking and payments technology, and educational proficiency to serve a new generation: That’s a payoff we can all enjoy.