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6 Things to Tell a Millennial About Startups

The traits that some think would hinder this generation in their growth are actually the catalysts for it.

Global Influencer

Global Influencer
Global Influencer

I’ve long been inspired by other successful entrepreneurs including Richard Branson (of course), John Lee Dumas, an incredible podcaster, my friend Michael E. Gerber, author of the ground-breaking entrepreneur’s manual, the EMyth and Kevin O’Connor among many others.

I wonder how many have heard of Kevin O’Connor. He’s in the top .5% of business experts but he certainly is not out there promoting himself, he’s making money. O’Connor is in that ethereal level of entrepreneurs who have gone through numerous liquidity events and cashed out many times for humungous bucks.

O’Connor’s first start-up in college was quickly bought up by a competitor netting him a $30M windfall on a $25,000 friends and family investment. His next venture in1995 was ISS (an enterprise mobility management platform that helped staff quickly provision and update its mobile apps and safeguard mobile devices). IBM eventually bought it for $1.5 billion.

Not one to keep good ideas to himself, O’Connor and engineer Dwight Merriman created the advertising giant DoubleClick that was acquired by Google for $3.1 billion.

Ok, so some say he was lucky but the reality is he had good intuition and luck. He knew when to sell, when to downsize, when to finance and when to avoid glitches in the economy.

He was often quoted from a lecture he gave to a group of founders when he told them, “first of all, get rid of the word ‘founder’ off your business card.” To be a great leader you need to recognize that your job is working for your people. You’ve got to recognize when someone else might be a better CEO, CTO and CFO.”

He recognised that a good entrepreneur had community values, great employees and listened well. From a social media standpoint I know the different age demographics react differently to values, issues, trends, politics and business. I wasn’t sure about millennials a few years ago but they have helped business make a lot of changes in their thinking. I’m looking to them for a better future.

To be honest I have caught the millennial shopping bug – why make shopping a chore when you can use Amazon. My three courier guys? I know them by their first names, Larry, Moe and Curly. Millennials just don’t waste time. Thanks for introducing me to the magic of Amazon.

Millennials shop local and don’t seem to mind paying more. It’s about sustainability, or something, but I get it and support it. It’s also allowed organic foods and ‘without preservatives’ to catch on.

Customer Service to millennials is like one of the Ten Commandments. Complaints are invaluable and necessarily handled expeditiously. The value-based attitude makes them demand better workmanship and attitude by those they buy from.

The millennials I work with work smarter not harder. They always get the job done without a lot of supervision that would indicate to me they would be good entrepreneurs. This is reinforced by their start-up mentality. They deserve a badge for their ability to bootstrap everything.

Which leads me to give them the six things they need to know about creating a start-up.

  • Ideas are cheap as witnessed by all the dead-end ideas I have heard over the years. They are not by any means valuable unless they are executed, that’s when they may become a business.
  • While you are trying to think of everything for your start-up consider all the things that will mess you up on the way because your competition will. One of the tenets of Sun Szu’s Art of War is to know the ‘enemy’ (competitor) and do it better.
  • Always focus on creating value; it may be your only differentiator in the business world. With millennials’ penchant for value-based opportunities this is ingrained in their psyche.
  • Focus on a very short list of things you really need to do well. Your start-up will have goals and so should you too.
  • Speaking of your business goal – make it huge! Why settle for less when you can reach for the stars –ask Branson.
  • Surround yourself with the best and smartest people. My assistants were always bemused when someone complimented me on something and I always gave them credit by saying “thank you but behind a good manager is a better assistant.” I always felt they worked harder than me.

When I first started analysing millennials I thought them to be philosophical ‘hippies’ of their time. It’s a matter of not understanding them. The things that I thought would hinder them in growth are the catalysts for it. When others were going full speed ahead with bad business tactics and cared little for customer service they embraced it.

I think the future of business is in good hands. As Captain Picard would say – Engage!

Seasons Greetings to everyone!

Gary is CEO of Bizzo Management Group Inc. in Vancouver. He has mentored over 1000 business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs. London-based Richtopia placed Bizzo on the Top 100 Global Influencers in the World for 2018.

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