Employee vs. Entrepreneur: 4 Great Ideas to Foster Millennial Entrepreneurs Within Your Company Today

The American Dream was much different just a few decades ago. People wanted the good life: a big house with a nice yard, a shiny car, a family, luxuries, and rising to the top of the corporate ladder.

In 2017, things have changed.

Millennials (who will make up half the work force in the next three years) value independence over a corner office in an executive suite. Nine out of ten millennials say professional development and career growth is important in a job. However, to Generation Y/the Millennial, the appeal toward entrepreneurship is most attractive.

Almost two-thirds of millennials want to start their own business. Growing up seeing their parents and relatives getting fired, along with viewing cubicle life as boring, millennials see entrepreneurship as the answer to a stimulating career, a solid work life balance, professional growth, and independence. This begs the question:

Is working for the big man and a big company contradictory to millennial’s path to success if their ultimate desire is to be entrepreneurs?

All across the career board, you can see a pattern occurring. Millennials who work as trainers at a gym want to break off and get clients on their own and start their personal brand. IT consultants are wondering if they should continue working within a company, or offer freelancing consulting. Nutritionists and health coaches desire to become their own boss with their own clients and personal practice.

As a manager, this change can either be seen as a problem or as an opportunity. You can either think, Millennials are just going to stay for 3 months and leave my company. They are unloyal and not worth even training. Plus, they are ignorant about how difficult it is to start a company.

Or…

You can see this major industry shift as a HUGE opportunity and ask, How can I encourage entrepreneurial behavior within the company?

While the idea of entrepreneurship is sexy to millennials, the reality is starting a business is no easy task. This is where managers can thrive and become the rock star leaders that millennials need.

As a manager, you can play a key role in coaching Millennials to become inner entrepreneurs within the frame of your company. This is the ultimate win-win: creating intraprenuers. Millennials can have the opportunity to develop, innovate, and experiment, all the while contributing to the wellbeing and growth of your company’s mission.

Create the Space for Millennials to Experiment with Passion Projects

From the get-go, make it transparent to your millennial workers that they have the opportunity to grow and innovate within the framework of your company. Create a culture that promotes a healthy balance of freedom and structure.

A great example of this is what Google did with their “Genius Hour.” Employees were allowed to use 20% of their workweek to explore projects of their choosing, as long as it benefited and contributed to the company. Gmail, AdSense, and Google Glass are just a few examples of successes that resulted from the allocated time for self-directed experimentation.

Welcome New Ideas, Feedback, and Input

Millennials want feedback. They want acknowledgment. They want praise. They want constructive advice. They’re just too scared to ask for it. Less than 20% of millennials say they routinely receive feedback, according to Gallup research.

As a manger, it’s up to you to create a welcoming, friendly work environment. Make feedback a two-way street. Create an open door policy and make it clear to your millennial workers that they can ask you questions—whether popping into the office, texting, tweeting, or calling.

By empowering millennials to feel confident and comfortable with open communication, they will feel permission to innovate and come forward with new ideas. They will see you, their manager, as someone they can trust.

Create Incentives

Whether it is in the form of stock options, chances for commission, or special perks, make it clear that millennials can succeed beyond just means of salary. Millennials value independence, flexibility, purposeful work, and growth opportunities. If you can provide these incentives, millennials will want to work for your company and contribute to its growth.

Emphasize Structure and Safety

Unlike if millennials were on their own starting a personal brand, they have the luxury of support and safety that comes with working for a company. Emphasize that millennials can be intrepreneurs and still grow and take risks. Explain that working within your company is the perfect place for them to learn and grow, without the very real risk of messing up on their own.

By emphasizing entrepreneurial opportunities and the safety that comes along with being part of a company, millennials will feel empowered to take risks and innovate within your company.

Take action TODAY and create the opportunities for millennials to become Intreprenuers within your company. Allow the space for millennials to work on passion projects and innovate within the company. Embrace new ideas, provide feedback, and promote a culture with open communication. Create incentives while also showing the upside that comes with working in a company.

The workplace is changing, and it’s up to YOU as a manger to adapt and view the shift as an opportunity to be embraced.

Need help getting started? Let us help you stop chasing relevance and make it happen. For more on working from the inside out, check out Part One of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace TODAY.