Gen Z revolution: Redefining the entrepreneurial blueprint

As the youngest cohort in the workforce, Gen Z emerges as a resolute and entrepreneur-savvy generation, rewriting the rules of entrepreneurship. Let’s break this down for you.

Gen Z revolution: Redefining the entrepreneurial blueprint

Wednesday December 27, 2023,

8 min Read

Lazy, selfish, frivolous, TikTok/Instagram generation, and so on– internet and meme culture likes to label GenZ with varied terms like these, shaping multifarious preconceptions about this generation. But is GenZ merely all about these enlisted characteristics? 

Born between the mid-1990s to the early 2010s, Gen Z emerges as a cohort challenging established norms and traditions. They're sceptics, questioning conventional beliefs upheld by previous generations. Rejecting the notion of a ‘mandatory’ four-year university education laden with overwhelming debts, they're redefining success and shattering gender stereotypes. This transformative mindset is reshaping the trajectory to success, cultivating a new generation of leaders driven by innovation and autonomy.

But it's not just about doing things differently; Gen Z is fundamentally equipped to thrive unlike any generation before. The pandemic recession-battered generation champions inclusivity, and harnesses fresh perspectives, boundless creativity, and an unyielding fearlessness. Words like 'venture capital' and 'pitch decks' seamlessly blend into their daily, cool lexicon.

Harvard Business Review notes a surge in entrepreneurship classes, “At least 600,000 college students take a class in entrepreneurship every year. Ten years ago their number was negligible” The desire for self-empowerment and business ownership echoes across grades five to 12, with 40 percent expressing aspirations to run their enterprises, and 24 percent already venturing into entrepreneurship (as found in a recent Gallup poll).

As the youngest cohort in the workforce, Gen Z emerges as a resolute and entrepreneur-savvy generation, rewriting the rules of entrepreneurship. Let’s break this down for you.

3 GenZs holding placards of self-expression and identity

Not waiting to hit the mark of 18

Gone are the days of summer jobs and saving in piggy banks, waiting for the security of a 401(k) from a company. Generation Z is driven toward launching businesses at remarkably young ages. Their millennial parents' influence, many of whom are entrepreneurs themselves, has sparked an astonishing surge of young entrepreneurs taking flight.

Witnessing kid CEOs and entrepreneurs has become increasingly common. Take, for instance, Shravan and Sanjay Kumaran, siblings who teamed up to create the engaging gaming app 'Catch Me Cop,' available on the Apple Store. They stand among India's youngest entrepreneurs, having begun their journey at just 10 years old. With a passion for coding turned hobby, they've developed 11 gaming apps, 7 on Apple Store and 3 on Google Play Store.

Traditionally, millennial entrepreneurs often began their ventures in college or after, with a few starting in high school. However, the trend is swiftly shifting toward a younger demographic. The advantages of this early start are clear; investors and sponsors are increasingly inclined to support young entrepreneurs over their older counterparts.

Not bound by school/college lessons

Mentorship remains a cornerstone of successful entrepreneurship, a timeless principle upheld even by Generation Z. However, their approach to mentorship diverges significantly from traditional methods.

For Gen Z entrepreneurs, social media communities have emerged as the primary hub for seeking guidance. While interest-based communities have long existed, Gen Z has elevated their significance to a whole new level.

A considerable segment of Gen Z entrepreneurs is self-taught, leveraging online platforms like Google and YouTube. However, a substantial cohort turns to these community mentors to brainstorm ideas, seek advice, and validate business decisions.

These communities offer a wealth of benefits, enabling the exchange of ideas and leveraging the expertise of more seasoned members. Moreover, they emphasise collaboration over competition, a paradigm shift propelling them toward remarkable success, and setting them apart from Millennials.

Redefining the notions of prestige

The conventional 9 to 5 job doesn't quite garner standing ovations from Gen Z. Surveys, such as the one conducted by ZenBusiness, revealed a staggering 72% of Gen Z respondents believing that the traditional career paths available to their parents no longer align with their choices. It's not just an opinion; it's a significant shift in our future workforce challenging the norm. 

But here's the fascinating twist–Gen Z isn't twiddling their thumbs. Identified as neurodiverse, Gen Z entrepreneurs are reshaping the contours of success, redefining career contentment. Unlike preceding generations that equated success with climbing the corporate ladder or wealth accumulation, these young entrepreneurs align passion with their business ventures.

Raised in a culturally and racially diverse society, established corporations aren't the pinnacle; instead, they find prestige in crafting something from scratch, being their boss, and creating tangible solutions for real-world issues.

Embracing authenticity, relevance, personalisation

While Gen Z values authenticity, assuming they unquestionably trust every influencer review would be a misconception. While influencers, friends, and online reviews influence Gen Z's decisions, they possess a keen eye for accuracy and authenticity. They are unlikely to engage in anything that lacks genuineness.

Take any GenZ entrepreneur in any corner of the earth. You would never find two GenZ entrepreneurs engaging or promoting the same idea, product or service. That is simply because, they live by the mantra– ‘If it's not different, it's not cool.’ They thrive on reinventing the wheel and disrupting the industries they enter.

Authenticity runs deep in their DNA, paving the way for a flood of creative ideas and businesses in this decade.

Establishing flexibility as the core mantra

Today's youth embrace flexibility, shunning a rigid commitment to a single career path. Their openness to change, unrestricted mindset, and adaptability define Generation Z's approach. This adaptable outlook, coupled with their lifelong exposure to technology, has facilitated their seamless transition into the evolving 'new normal.'

As trailblazers of a fully digital era, Gen Z has honed the ability to learn anytime, anywhere, on any device. Their capacity to conform to diverse circumstances underscores their adaptability. And since they lack this from traditional workforces, they are bent on incorporating flexibility in their entrepreneurial ventures. Their aspirations for a condensed workweek, improved compensation, and adequate paid time off aren't new, yet their impact is transformative.

They believe in liberating the world from antiquated norms set a century ago during wartime. To foster durability and employee engagement, GenZ is building a world where the notion of working 70 hours/week is a big LOL scenario.

Placing sustainability at the heart of business ventures

In stark contrast to earlier generations, Gen Z startups prioritise sustainability as a cornerstone of their business ethos. They acknowledge the vital significance of environmental preservation and are dedicated to minimising their carbon footprint.

These entrepreneurs innovate by integrating sustainability into every facet of their operations, employing renewable energy sources and adopting eco-friendly packaging solutions as some examples.

Rise of the creator economy

According to a ZenBusiness survey, a staggering 84% of Gen Zs are creators, generating jaw-dropping revenues from their creative content and social posts. Crazy, right?

From psychologist AKA Divija Bhasin, Krutika aka ‘themermaidscales’, rant-queen Niharika NM, the savage Sakshi Shivdasani, or desi uncle aka Vishnu Kaushal, the GenZ creator economy continues to surge with the list being pretty endless. Apart from their much-relatable content, they aim to assist corporate brands in better engaging with younger audiences. 

It's a clear realisation that traditional corporations and advertising agencies must connect with the world's largest generation, given that 30% of the global population comprises Gen Z.

Contrary to common perception, the creator economy extends far beyond online influence. Today, it's easier than ever to be your own boss and earn through your creations, whether a song, sketch, dance or even a LinkedIn post.

As Michael Fanuele, SVP of Brand & Strategy at ZenBusiness, noted, "Social media has created this class of entrepreneurs called creators,... people quickly realise that as you start producing content, and as you start getting paid, you've just become a business.”

Many individuals in Gen Z have not just built personal brands online but also established businesses and partnerships beyond their digital presence. These triumphs inspire others within the generation to venture into the creator economy. 

Unapologetically juxtaposing their identity and entrepreneurship

While identity politics has faced criticism for its divisiveness, Generation Z has ingeniously harnessed its principles for business success.

Identity entrepreneurship involves centring your business and its concept around themes like race, religion, sexual orientation or location. Though this concept isn't new, Gen Z has elevated its prominence and shown the world that it’s possible to be YOU and still be a successful entrepreneur.

Innovative Gen Z businesses are actively branding themselves as Young Black Entrepreneurs (YBEs) or Young Gay Entrepreneurs, leveraging the immense power of social media and their adeptness in navigating digital platforms. This generation has demonstrated a remarkable prowess in utilising identity entrepreneurship, yielding more impactful results than previous generations.

India's entrepreneurial landscape is evolving with individuals like Asish Chopra, Sushant Divgikar, Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, and many others embracing authenticity and feeling empowered in their identities.

The impact is undeniable–these strategies draw in substantial traffic from individuals who identify with similar affiliations. 

As part of Gen Z herself, the author is witnessing this incredible generation excel in complex industries and finds it truly inspiring, and anticipates even greater strides ahead. Evolution is always invigorating to witness, and staying attuned to these trends is key for us to progress alongside. We simply yearn for greater acceptance and encouragement.

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