February 20, 2018

Young Entrepreneurs are an Important Source of Growth and Job Creation Across the World

Millennials (loosely defined as individuals born between 1980 and 2000) tend to be negatively viewed as spoiled, entitled or lazy. My experience with Millennials, however, have been anything but these stereotypes. Therefore, I was pleased to read a report, An entrepreneur's perspective: Today's world through the eyes of the young innovator, that "explores the similarities and divergences of today's young entrepreneurs and the general public."

Sponsored by FedEx and published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), the report also "seeks insights into the elements of the business environment that matter most to entrepreneurs, as well as their views on a variety of issues including free trade and social responsibility."

The report importantly notes, "Collectively, young entrepreneurs are innovative by nature and their thinking is an important source of growth and job creation across the world. Today, with digital tools in hand, leaders are better positioned to expand their businesses across borders, seize niche opportunities and shape the global economic future."

Having co-founded two businesses, Yeeko Inc. and CareerLight, LLC, with a group of young entrepreneurs in the past couple of years, I agree with the assertion that "most of today's young entrepreneurs want more than status and a global corporate footprint. Their ideas of success arise from powerful social, political and economic convictions."

The EIU surveyed more than 500 of these young entrepreneurs worldwide about their motivations, ideals and priorities. The survey respondents were between 25 and 50 years of age and all founders, owners or partners of firms with fewer than 500 employees. They are living in North America, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. They were surveyed on matters of globalization, technology and social values.

As explained in the report's Executive Summary, The EIU "then compared the survey respondents' "views with a similar survey of the general public in the same regions. Side by side, these surveys enabled us to differentiate the outlooks of today's young and innovative entrepreneurs. Our surveys identified four key mindsets that guide young entrepreneurs: leading with passion; thinking globally; embracing social responsibility; and banking on connectivity."

With respect to leading with passion, I appreciate the notion that "entrepreneurs have stories. Their businesses are inspired by the founders' experiences and interactions with the world around them. As businesses grow, experiences and values continue to define targets and guide mission statements."

For example, CareerLight, which provides customized career training for international students to help prepare them for a successful career, was created based my co-founder's, Yan Tang, interactions with other international students studying in the United States as they begin the job search process. Furthermore, Yan's experience of working as recruitment consultant for Manpower in Shanghai, China provides the inspiration that drives CareerLight's services to helping each and every client.

On the topic of embracing social responsibility, the report notes that "today's innovators are not purely profit-driven. Their business' bottom line remains critical, but young entrepreneurs are generally seeking impacts beyond wealth." My fellow co-founders of Yeeko, a digital media platform and publisher of Yeeko Magazine, a periodical that produces content on culture and literature for Chinese readers worldwide, "see their work as a way to bring positive social change in their home countries and the wider world."

Based on the interactions of my young entrepreneurial colleagues, I strongly agree with the report's conclusion:
Today's innovators are passionate. They believe strongly in connectivity and the future globalized marketplace. They put a high priority on change through connectivity and education, two essential ingredients of global expansion. They overwhelmingly embrace free trade, free movement of people and free exchange of ideas—concepts that often spark anxiety among the general public.
It is important for citizens and businesses alike to note the passions and the challenges associated with them, as well as the differences and alignment with public sentiment. Because in the hands of young and inspiring leaders, each opportunity to grow pulls our globalized markets and societies in new directions, strengthening connections and forging new ones.
Collectively, these actions play a role in shifting and shaping the future of trade, technology and social justices. It is heartening, then, that entrepreneurs are boldly and enthusiastically aligning their work with positive social impact. Better yet, they feel their success and status as innovators depend on it.
What are your experiences working with young entrepreneurs?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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