Millennial and Baby Boomer Co-Founders: A Generational Dream Team, by Jim Sugarman, Co-Founder 4GenNow
The future of American entrepreneurship may be with an eye towards millennials and baby boomers overcoming their differences and launching startups. These two generations together represent almost 150 million people or nearly 50% of the total US population.
And with business startups ticking slightly upward and reaching pre-Recession levels according to the 2017 Kaufmann Index of Startup Activity, startup activity is still in decline when compared to levels in the 1980s.
Student debt. Nearly 70% of graduates earning a bachelor’s degree leave school in debt. Seniors graduating from college this year owe almost $37,000, up from an average of $35,000 incurred by graduates of the class of 2015. In the ASA study, nearly half of respondents said student debt had an impact on their decision to start a small business.
Baby Boomers are anxious about retirement. 45% of all baby boomers have zero retirement savings and a growing number intend to work until at least age 70. In 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18.6% of Americans age 65 and older were still working full or part time compared to 10.8% who were working in 1985, and the percentage is expected to grow.
Complementary Skill Sets. Tech-savvy millennials make valuable allies for baby boomers who need help navigating the digital space. As digital natives and the best-educated generation, millennials, through their positive outlook and edgy attitude, bring an intensely disruptive perspective to boomers. This generation is also looking for mentors who can point out mistakes to avoid to maximize their progress. Millennials also have intense focusing skills and the ability to work long hours.
According to Michael Hyatt, boomers can empower millennials by bringing four critical types of capital to the table: life, intellectual, financial and social. “Younger entrepreneurs may have large followings on social media, but older entrepreneurs have stronger friendships and networks who can invest, Money matters, and middle-aged entrepreneurs are more likely to have the resources (or know those who have) to back new ventures,” says Hyatt.
Nathaniel Koluc, co-founder and CEO of ReWork is another fan of this generational business pairing. In his article, Why Baby Boomers and Millennials Make Great Teams,he explains,“I think these groups are a match made in heaven. Rather than buy into the oil-and-water view, I propose a different view of this inevitable mixing. I see vibrant, powerful opportunity due to the overlapping nature of what each group needs and wants, and what each has to give.”