Millennials’ parents and grandparents sure had it good. During their working careers, real estate prices took off, stocks soared in value, national GDP grew healthily around 3% annually, and taxes were routinely lowered. Contrast that for Millennials… stocks are overvalued after a near 8-year bull market, GDP barely beats 1% annually, government debt loads are increasing to scary levels (which will lead to higher taxes), and home prices in many metropolises are up triple digit percentages in the last ten years.
Millennials are the Lost Generation?
We hear it all the time: Millennials could be the first generation to have a lower standard of living and life expectancy than their parents. Throw in the constant jabs at the Millennial generation for being basement dwelling, entitled individuals and it’s easy to get gloomy about your career and life prospects if you happen to be one…
However, as is so often the case, people tend to focus on the negatives. Just like every generation before, Millennials have their own distinct advantages from being in their twenties and thirties during this remarkable, albeit volatile, time in human history. What’s more, according to the US Chamber Foundation, Millennials are likely the most studied group of people of all-time, which gives us plenty of data on them to find opportunities as entrepreneurs and investors.
From my vantage point as a fellow Millennial, I’m here to tell you that despite the challenges in front of us, we have opportunities to prosper which our parents and grandparents never had. There are tremendous opportunities both economically and socially for Millennials over the next 20 years. Let me explain…
6 Distinctly Millennial Advantages
Cheap money: This is the most important opportunity for Millennials to understand as it truly is a once in 100-year advantage for them. Although I don’t believe Millennials will see the same asset appreciation on real estate their parents did, this is a historic time to borrow. Money is dirt cheap, which, in and of itself, is a gargantuan opportunity. Sure, Baby Boomers saw their home prices skyrocket, but they also went through a decade of insanely high interest rates (the 80s). Peaking at 21% in 1981, the cost to borrow during that era was crippling. My uncle told me that one year during the 1980s he remembered looking at his mortgage statement at year-end after forking out nearly $1,500 a month; and only a few hundred dollars, throughout the entire year, had gone to principle. People were barely covering the interest costs on their mortgages in the 80s.
I recently bought another investment property – do you know what my mortgage interest rate is? 2.4%… homeowners in the 80s would’ve killed for a rate like that. Right away half the mortgage payment goes to principle on a 30-year amortization. That’s a huge advantage we Millennials have, and it should not be taken lightly.
And don’t worry about rates rising significantly for a long, long time. So long as governments are carrying astronomical amounts of debt, and GDP remains around 1-2%, raising rates would be economic suicide for a nation.
University education rate is higher than any generation: Your fellow Millennials are smart. More than any generation before, Millennials have, or are working toward, post-secondary degrees. This means if you’re thinking about starting a business, the employee talent pool is educated and consumers are aware. And with a slow economy, there are many bright Millennials hungry for work. What’s more, Millennials are staying with their first job out of college longer than previous generations, making them a good investment for corporate training.
Socially conscious: Millennials reward entrepreneurs for their good deeds to society. They are ‘aware consumers’ and have loyalty to socially conscious brands. Marketingcharts.com reports almost three-quarters of Millennials claimed that they would pay more for sustainable products. Millennials like to support small businesses and routinely shop at places such as farmers’ markets.
The sharing economy wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Millennials. They have propelled this disruptive industry which has created hugely successful startups with multi-billion valuations – Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, etc.
More populated metropolises: The downtown cores of most major cities have grown over the years and community diversity along with it. This is great news for Millennials looking to start a business. As the shift away from the suburbs continues, your potential customer base has grown in your own backyard. A more centralized population is an opportunity to advertise cheaply and draw in increased local traffic to your business. Think about how many condo buildings now have shops at the bottom of them… you get the point.
Instant access to global market: Consumer Internet access only came about in the mid-nineties when Millennials were in elementary school. Our parents’ generation worked to make the Internet a portal to conduct commerce, and they did a pretty darn good job.
Only about a decade ago, consumers began adopting the Internet as a platform to make purchases. This was a massive breakthrough for entrepreneurs. Instead of only being able to sell locally, the world is now your marketplace. Don’t overlook this fact – we are a wired and connected generation.
Millennials are the first generation in history to consume more news online than from radio or TV.
Millennials embrace change and disruption: Unlike any generation before, Millennials embrace disruptive technologies and change. They expect it, and reward bold ideas that go against the grain and challenge sleepy corporations and the ‘Establishment’. This is huge for entrepreneurs! Just look at the sharing economy. It has taken off because Millennials embrace the idea of cheaper transportation, hotels and dining out if shared with complete strangers. Millennials will be the last people to tell you that your idea is stupid just because it has never been done. They are an optimistic bunch, and sometimes that in itself is the key to success.
Millennials have their own set of worldly challenges, but they also have unique opportunities that — if taken with an optimistic approach — could pave the way for prosperous business ventures. They also like to support each other, which makes Millennials a great opportunity for other Millennials. By understanding the culture of this generation, which is now the largest in the United States at over 80 million people, entrepreneurs stand to benefit greatly.
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