Understanding Super-Successful Young Business Owners

By Rieva Lesonsky

I love hearing about, meeting and learning from young entrepreneurs—they never fail to inspire me. That’s why I was so excited to learn about a new global study spotlighting a new breed of business owner: the “millennipreneurs.”

Aged 20 to 35 years, millennipreneurs are more successful, running more profitable companies and helming bigger staffs than other generations, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, which polled highly successful, high-net-worth entrepreneurs around the world. Here are some ways millennipreneurs differ from their predecessors:

Their companies are more profitable. Nearly six in 10 millennipreneurs in the study expect their profits to increase in the next 12 months, compared to 42 percent of Baby Boomers. Millennipreneurs are also enjoying higher gross profit margins (averaging 29.7 percent).

They’re starting their businesses younger than ever. Compared to Baby Boomers, who launched their first companies at an average of 35 years old, the average millennipreneur starts a company at 31. The study notes that not only has technology made it easier to start a business at a younger age, but it’s also become more widely accepted that young people can be taken seriously as business owners. (Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg.)

They start more businesses. The average millennipreneur in the survey has already started almost eight companies, compared to an average of 3.5 for Baby Boomers. Considering that Boomers are at the end of their entrepreneurial careers while millennipreneurs are still in the beginning of theirs, this difference is even more striking. The report’s authors surmise that the greater ease and affordability of starting a business today, thanks to technology, may contribute to the greater number of startups, and that millennipreneurs’ comfort level with failure could also play a role.

Their businesses are bigger. The average staff at a millennipreneur’s business is four times the size of the average Baby Boomer’s staff. One reason: Millenials are more likely to start businesses in ecommerce, retail and technology — industries that generally require a bigger staff than the Baby Boomers’ preferred industries of accounting, consulting and legal services.

They learned from their parents. Fewer than one-fourth of millennipreneurs are first-generation business owners. By comparison, more than half of Baby Boomers were the first in their families to own businesses. Perhaps millennipreneurs are more comfortable with entrepreneurship because they learned from their parents.

They care about giving back. Traditionally entrepreneurs in the Baby Boomer generation grew their companies, became wealthy and only then started pursuing charitable causes. In contrast, “millennipreneurs” are building social responsibility into their companies from the get-go.

Of course, this report focuses on highly successful entrepreneurs, so no wonder the stats are impressive. But there are lessons for all startups here: Aim high, dream big and don’t be afraid to fail.