A new report commissioned by American Express Canada, in partnership with Startup Canada, is attempting to glean some insight into the values and business habits of today’s millennial entrepreneur.
The study interviewed 511 entrepreneurs of all ages — including generation X, baby boomers, and millennials — across Canada. The goal was to create a comparison and see if there were any differences between millennial entrepreneurs and other generations.
Overall, 88 percent of entrepreneurs agreed with the sentiment that passion is more important than turning a profit; though 46 percent have yet to turn a profit, 85 percent are willing to take financial risks to grow their business.
As for what keeps all entrepreneurs up at night, the study found that cash flow was the top concern among 47 percent of respondents. Seventy-five percent said that they manage their own finances, and more than half (55 percent) reported difficulties with managing cash flow. Accounting, taxes, and budgeting were also concerns.
In order to follow their passions, 42 percent of millennial entrepreneurs hold a second job, 48 percent report paying themselves below market wage, and 52 percent used their personal savings to start their company.
“My co-founder and I were both motivated to start this business because we are passionate about education and the outdoors,” Erin Nicolardi, co-founder of Ridge to River, said in the study. “There was a lack of exploratory programming available and we wanted to use our passion to fill that gap.”
Seventy-four percent of millennial small business owners “feel married” to their business, not just because of the financial commitment, but for their passion of their work. Nearly one in three (30 percent) say they started their business to turn their passion into a career, compared to 17 percent who wanted to gain financial independence.
“Millennial entrepreneurs are the next generation of industry disrupters and game changers making real impact in their communities and beyond,” said Paul Roman, vice president and general manager of global commercial payments at American Express Canada. “They are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they are leaders today.”