Kim Kiyosaki teaching the Be, Do, Have concept

Female Millennial Entrepreneurs

The young ladies of this lost generation need our helping hand

If you’ve taken a ride with Uber lately, it’s readily apparent that more and more people are trading in their traditional corporate jobs (along with salaries and benefits) for the new “gig economy” philosophy of part-time and freelance work. And while plenty of people in their 40s and 50s are jumping on this bandwagon in search of the freedom and flexibility they’ve daydreamed about for decades, news headlines would have you believe that millennials are the ones driving this movement thanks to their aversion to cubicles and structure.

I applaud anyone who’s brave enough to break out of the stuffy and “safe” mold of climbing the corporate ladder to pursue their passion—or at least explore things they might be passionate about if they weren’t trapped somewhere from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and then some) each day. Millennials seem to have an entrepreneurial spirit driving them to make different decisions than the generations that came before them. However, it’s not happening as often as you think. While 66 percent of millennials surveyed by Bentley University want to start a business, less than 5 percent of American millennials are currently running a business.

A Lost Generation

Whether it’s because they are saddled with student loans, are risk adverse, or believe the nonsense their parents and teachers have told them about the importance of following a conventional education and career path, they aren’t veering from tradition as much as I’d hoped. A report from the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), Millennial Women: The Future of Entrepreneurship in America, examines the perception and reality of this demographic, offering a detailed look at female millennial entrepreneurs and their future as business leaders and influencers.

They found that since the 1980s, the percentage of people under 30 who own a business has dropped by 65 percent—and the rate of new entrepreneurship among those aged 20 to 34 fell from 35 percent in 1996 to 23 percent in 2013. Other highlights of the report include:

  • Only 3 percent of millennial women are self-employed at unincorporated businesses.
  • Millennial women are less likely than millennial men to be entrepreneurs.
  • Millennial women entrepreneurs make more than 25 percent less than their millennial women labor force counterparts.
  • Millennial men are more than twice as likely as millennial women to have paid employees.

Let’s Show Them The Way

It’s clear this needle is moving in the wrong direction. So what’s to come of the next generation of female entrepreneurs? First, we need to identify and remove the barriers preventing them from pursuing entrepreneurship, such as unfair wages based on gender and student loan debt. It’s crucial that we, as a nation, gain a deeper understanding of the gap between their desires to pursue self-employment versus their ability to make it happen. Perhaps policymakers need to step in and make the path to entrepreneurship more accessible—it is, after all, part of the American Dream and our future economy depends on an entrepreneurial spirit.

Second, we as female business owners need to step up and support these young women by mentoring them and providing resources to help them along their path. For instance, it’s clear that they aren’t familiar with the powerful investment strategy of using Other People’s Money to fund their businesses—the NWBC report found that millennial-owned businesses use a larger portion of personal capital than prior generations. This is because they are risk adverse, likely due to coming of age during the great mortgage crisis and possibly watching their parents lose their homes. Over 75 percent of millenials strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “I am extremely wary of taking on business debt.” Also, 55 percent of millennial women strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “I am willing to take financial risks in order to grow my business,” compared to 77 percent of millennial men. We need to help ease the fears these youngsters, especially the women, are holding onto by reassuring them that smart investments are not risky.

How can you help? By pointing any female millennials in your life to my blog posts, so that they can read up on entrepreneurship, investing strategies and become familiar with our Rich Dad teachings. It’s an education they certainly won’t have received in school and one that can set them up for the successful entrepreneurship path of their dreams.

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