I think it’s safe to say of millennials and Gen-zer’s,
we’ve come to the realization that the 9-5 work schedule in place for as long as we can remember…just isn’t working for us anymore. For some, that structure brings a sense of security. But many of us feel like we’re being held back creatively. We feel a sense of being trapped, having less time to work on our side hustles or practice our passions.
The truth is, work-life balance is becoming increasingly important for Gen Z and millennials, with many of them looking to start their own businesses to be able to do what they love on their own terms. The economic impacts of the pandemic have also played a role in the peak in interest in entrepreneurship in youth. With the youth unemployment rate hovering at a staggering 21%, many youth are turning to this path as – dare I say – a last resort. The fact is many skills involved in being a successful entrepreneur are the same skills you’d find in any accomplished individual, making career exploration of entrepreneurship a net-good in itself.
The interest in entrepreneurship became extremely evident when over 100 youth attended the startUp Event Series First Work’s Aspire team put together last month. Hosted over the course of three days, young attendees at startUp heard directly from entrepreneurs who have started their own businesses from the ground up, network with those business-owners, and participate in an interactive business-planning workshop with Futurpreneur.
With speakers from across all kinds of businesses — Street Voices, an online publication for homeless and at-risk youth; the Rise to Thrive Foundation, a Canadian student-led nonprofit that encourages people to form healthy habits; Miller Box Co., a small business that creates personalized gift boxes; Hanoi House, a Peterborough-based Vietnamese restaurant; and House of Glass, a Toronto-based gender-neutral clothing line — attendees heard how each business has adapted since the beginning of the pandemic, something incredibly important to understand as we enter this new normal.
Events like startUp push the boundaries of your comfort zone – a critical component to find success in your own business. You’re not only learning from successful business owners, but you’re given an opportunity to build your network, providing nearly unlimited access to resources and mentors. Building and maintaining relationships with the people you meet can also have a positive domino effect on getting your business off the ground. As I like to say, everyone knows someone who knows someone – meaning, if you build yourself into a network of likeminded people, you have more chances to be invited to other events or groups that are similar, connecting you to a larger group of colleagues who could be a potential valuable contact one day.
If you’re passionate about something enough to turn it into your full-time job, you can do it – no matter what anyone tells you. Justin Holness of Futurpreneur left us with a great piece of advice saying, “Your ‘why’ has to be more important than the struggle,” meaning – not only do you have to love what you do, but you must believe in it, and you must not let obstacles defeat you.
As an entrepreneurial generation who grew up hearing ‘you can do anything you set your mind to’ – it’s becoming evident that is exactly what we are doing. We have power to influence the way ‘work’ works and lay the foundation of a better, new normal for the next generations. As Justin said, there’s stigma surrounding entrepreneurship that it is only achievable for the wealthy; but we can change that narrative – we simply have to believe in and support each other.