Say what you will about the term “millennial” and who it might describe (including this very blogger), but one thing is true: Small business development all across Canada is being bolstered by contributions from energetic young minds. Millennial entrepreneurs are combining education, diverse interests, risk-taking and passion, leading the creation of a new wave of businesses.
What characterizes this style of business? A mixture of three key ideas, some new and some inherited. Read on to find out.
Despite its place among the current pantheon of trendy buzzwords, this characteristic has helped define millennials’ sense of values and business practices. In many ways, the importance of authenticity derives from a desire to go back to basics and connect with people. Look at the groundswell of local-centric restaurants and retailers that have emerged in the last five years, thriving from their connection to the communities in which they found a place to live and work.. Young entrepreneurs are bringing focus away from commercialization/commodification. These businesses tend to highlight simplified, social experiences and the importance of community and craft – whether eating, shopping, drinking, or having your hair cut – in a way that is deeply indebted to their generational forebears, the owners of local “mom and pop” independent businesses that came before.
Many young entrepreneurs have lived just long enough to be irrevocably imprinted by the titanic shifts between pre- and post-internet culture, as well as witnessing some of the most important milestone marks along the way that have come to define how a huge percentage of people live, work and share online. Soon, others will be conditioned practically from birth to a society that is growing more digitally connected every day. Enmeshment of digital sharing into daily life builds on the foundation of authenticity. Many businesses are socially connected, but the real successes in that ecosystem come from honest, two-way communication with your customers and followers. Small businesses know that anyone can take to Twitter to air grievances or offer praise: reacting and responding to this content will form (for better or worse) a part of your business’ lasting identity. Connecting to people with authentic, personally minded content via social media is a mark of the millennial mindset as it relates to small business.
Both digitally and spatially, the importance of design is not to be ignored. Getting customers to connect – online or around a table – or to relate to a business’ goals and principles requires meticulous design considerations. How do customers want to browse, order, pay for items or services? Can these experiences be streamlined, made simpler, made more connected to digital resources? What makes people feel good about being in a store or a recording studio or a restaurant, and how can you avoid what annoys them? How to best imprint your business’ identity and build brand recognition through unique visual or experiential themes? How to work with unconventional spaces, or renovate them for unorthodox or new purposes by using the resources at hand? All of these are design-centric considerations. Many millennial entrepreneurs are keen to design with the previous two headings in mind: simplicity and digital integration.