The New Entrepreneurial Generation

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The New Entrepreneurial Generation

There is certainly nothing new about entrepreneurship. It has been the backbone of the American economy from the start. But until recently, the vast majority of people in this country worked at a steady job for someone else who was an entrepreneur, or whose father or grandfather was.

Today that balance is shifting, as members of Generation Y grow up and look around at what the world has to offer them in the way of occupations and livelihoods. Increasingly, people in their middle 20s or younger are deciding that the corporate lifestyle simply isn’t interesting, challenging, or rewarding enough.

With confidence, skill, and a set of unprecedented technical tools, they are inventing their own jobs and often their own new companies. For example, as profiled in USA Today,1 Ben Kaufman was a teenager when he borrowed money from his parents to start making a line of accessories for iPods. So now, at the age of 20, his work has already netted him $1.5 million in venture capital and a top spot at the 2006 Macworld Expo. And, he’s not even out of college yet.

Experts who study this trend refer to it as “creating a custom-built life.” As they observe, members of this generation are already used to creating their own customized Web pages and music, so why not do the same with work?

This entrepreneurial impulse has been central to American culture for over two centuries, of course. But now, advanced technology is giving it a new face and lowering the barriers to entry. Using skillful Web site design, they can instantly transcend any hint of a homemade look.

That’s why a 17-year-old can start a business. No one will ever know who’s on the other end. In fact, that same technology gives young people the ability to create a start-up with very little capital, too. They can outsource products through instant global communications and create an up-and-running business in weeks or months instead of years.

This shift of the best and brightest new minds from traditional employment to entrepreneurship has created a real problem for many firms. What they are offering increasingly fails to deliver what these Echo Boomers want.

As reported by CNNMoney,2 employers are having a hard time hiring the skilled workers they need. The colleges are turning out graduates, but not enough of them are signing on for corporate America. That’s why the unemployment rate for college graduates today is a mere 1.9 percent. And, worst of all, this is occurring as Baby Boomers retire and leave more and more vacancies to be filled...

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