Op-Ed: A New Generation of Entrepreneurs: Millennials and Gen Z

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Orange County / Inland Empire District Office 

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A New Generation of Entrepreneurs:
Millennials and Gen Z

By: Gabriela Garcia, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Marketing Specialist for the Orange County / Inland Empire covering all of Orange County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County

Millennials and Gen Z have given rise to a new wave of entrepreneurs with distinct personalities that are redefining the future of entrepreneurship. Millennials are those born between 1981-1996 and Gen Z between 1997-present. Generally, Millennials and Gen Z tend to be more diverse than prior generations, are digital natives as they were born in a time where social media, the cell phone, and world wide web became readily accessible throughout the world, and overall share a vision toward a more just and better world.

This new generation of entrepreneurs is more focused on social impact than ever before. Millennials and Gen Z are values-driven, demanding social change and accountability, from themselves, their peers, businesses, and political leaders. The top three areas of concerns are healthcare/disease prevention, climate change and protecting the environment, and unemployment. They are also more community oriented, keen on taking action to create meaningful change, and prefer to shop with businesses whose products and services benefit their communities and focus on sustainability.

Younger business owners tend to be sole proprietors or operate with less employees than previous generations. According to the US Office of Advocacy, as of 2017, they made up 26% of nonemployers and only 6% of employers. This points to a rising trend for self-employed individuals and gives rise to an opportunity for more resources for solo entrepreneurs.

One of the most prominent barriers to starting their own business is that of the entrepreneurs born between 1982 – 2000, 42% say they don’t have the financial means to start a business as 82% of this demographic has at least one source of debt. This can include credit card debit, mortgage, student loans etc.

The SBA offers a variety of resources for young entrepreneurs, including funding options or mentorship and learning opportunities. For example, under the Learning Center, the SBA offers a Young Entrepreneurs course composed of 70 objectives to be completed. This course provides an overview of the opportunities and challenges for this demographic and goes over the basics of creating and financing a successful business. It also goes over creating a business plan, understanding the market, funding options, and understanding the resources available through the SBA’s resource partners such as mentors or workshops.

The SBA also offers detailed business guides in the following areas, which is invaluable for young entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their business:

The SBA partners with various educational institutions such as colleges and universities to provide access to resources to young entrepreneurs either directly or through trusted resource partners such as:

  • SCORE: A network of free volunteer small business mentors that help young entrepreneurs start, grow, or transition their business. SCORE offers various workshops and a webpage dedicated to young entrepreneurs
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC): The SBDC provides no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private partners to offer comprehensive assistance to young entrepreneurs. The SBDC also creates blogs specifically focusing on Youth Entrepreneurship. Find a local SBDC here.
  • Office of Veterans Business Development: A recent study by the Office of Advocacy titled “Millennial Veteran Entrepreneurship: Research On The Next Generation Of Veteran Entrepreneurs” gives additional insight into the millennial veteran entrepreneur, and highlights the opportunities to help this demographic. The research shows that millennial veterans are much more diverse than previous generations but that fewer millennial veterans are involved in entrepreneurship than other generations. Different SBA programs and initiatives are aimed to help millennial veteran business owners as such as Boots to Business, and the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program, with locations across the US.

The SBA is committed to helping young entrepreneurs. Visit our district office website or contact us for help in starting, growing or expanding your business.


SBAs’ participation or support is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products, or services of any Co-sponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.  All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. 

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