As we wait on tenterhooks for the economy to recover from the current financial credit crisis, we hear reports this summer that many universities are full and for a number of school leavers there will be no places, writes Sandy Loder.
At the same time employers are reluctant to take on new graduates in these current uncertain economic times. Due to these extraordinary circumstances, could this be the moment for the next generation or more commonly known as "Generation Y" to show the world that they are our future entrepreneurs?
Generation Y's talents need to be brought to the fore to create the next generation of entrepreneurs. I have been running Next Generation financial and entrepreneurial training programmes at Fleming Family and Partners in London for the past six years. During this time over 300 Generation Y of both sexes aged between 18 and 25 have attended.
It has been very interesting to observe their behaviour and characteristics during the different economic conditions we have seen. It is these observations that make me think that there are some hidden talents in our next generation that need to be nurtured and mentored. They need to be brought to the fore to create the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Who are Generation Y? Generation Y or more commonly referred to as Gen Y are generally accepted to have been born sometime between 1970 and 2000. They are sometimes known as Millennials or Echo Boomers. Their characteristics can vary from continent to continent. However, there are some common themes such as increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies. There has also been a marked increase in a neoliberal approach to politics and economics.
According to research, Gen Y showed the following strong characteristics:
I would say that all these traits are required to be an entrepreneur.
However, some employers are concerned that Gen Y has too greater expectation from the workplace and a desire to shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to the workplace. Does this mean they would be much happier working for themselves? Could this be the independent entrepreneurial spirit we are looking for?
However, Gen Y are beginning to pick up the label of the Boomerang generation. The Gen Y boomerang generation seem to be reluctant to transition into adulthood.
Research also found that Gen Y's weakest characteristics were:
Poor team player
Lack of creativity
Poor self awareness
Lack of risk taking
There are some worrying characteristics there that make one wonder whether they have it in them to be an entrepreneur.
Why might they not make it as an entrepreneur?
Is the parental acceptance of the Boomerang generation having a negative effect on their children' financial and social independence?
Young adults who are able to return home after an unsuccessful job hunt often become more passive in their search for employment if they continue to be financially supported by their parents. A lack of motivation can delay the start to a young adult's career and cause them to miss months or years of job earnings and experience.
According to Ashridge Management College the current education system is largely failing this generation in terms of preparation for the workforce, especially concerning communication and numerical skills, approaches to learning, creativity, working with others and rewards and development.
The research echoes findings by the Association of Graduate Recruiters which identified a new breed of graduate "divas" who expect everything to fall into their laps.
Gen Y consider themselves in great demand in the job market but are described by bosses as "unrealistic", "self-centred", "fickle" and "greedy". This does not bode well if we want them to be our next entrepreneurs.
What do the Gen Y think?
I decided to do some of my own research. So at the end of running two programmes for the Fleming Family & Partners Next Generation programme this summer, I asked them what their concerns and worries were. What did I find?
There seems to be a lack of confidence and a lack of basic business knowledge. They seem to put themselves under pressure to succeed and find happiness and success in their jobs immediately. More worryingly that after three years at university they are still not sure what they want to do. Are our universities doing enough to prepare our next generation to the reality of life? Are Gen Y themselves actually thinking about their own employability during the long gaps between lectures and the long holidays.
Why we must help Gen Y be the next entrepreneurs?
Wealth Dissipation is happening all round us. Parents are trying to achieve the impossible with our heirs. Why? In most cases they are keen that their children inherit something of their wealth when they pass away - whether it is cash, shares or some other asset.
Very sadly, not helped by some difficult market conditions, it is almost nigh impossible to grow their assets faster than families breed. If they wish to pass on what they inherited, in equal measure, then in some cases that requires an enormous growth rate to achieve. Unless that is they adopt a primogenital approach to inheritance.
In general, nobody is going to get rich on the stock market. Unless one is either very lucky or very skilled!
I believe there is a real lack of business management training conducted at schools and universities across the country. There is too much academia dominating the early lives of our next generation.
"This is also true of many of the MBA programmes across the world according to Geoff Marsh, Managing Director of Dansam Ltd. "I am often asked to deliver sales, negotiation and client management modules on MBA programmes when they discover they spend a great deal of time preparing their participants in the theoretical aspects of business administration but don°ot have a single module on how to deal with a real client."
As they finish their schooling or degree, the next generation suddenly wake up and realise they have not been prepared for the future ahead. Whether one goes onto work in a business or start a new business some basic understanding of the functions of business are important. More especially so if we want to start to create more new entrepreneurs.
How can we help the Gen Y be the next entrepreneurs?
Gen Y can be helped in many ways to become the next generation of entrepreneurs and one of the more successful ways is mentoring. Much as we care about our offspring's future careers, we are not always the best people to give impartial career advice. What the Gen Y need are a small team of independent, experienced and successful individuals who can act as mentors. Mentors should meet with their pupils every couple of months and quiz their student on what he has achieved since they last met and what are their next steps going forward. Mentors should also be able to listen and lend an ear to their pupil's concerns, worries and questions. It is a hugely satisfying relationship and a great confidence boost. It should leave the Gen Y inspired to carry on.
Entrepreneurs need to be inspired, determined and enthusiastic to be successful. I have a great friend, Robert Swan OBE who was the first person to walk unsupported to the South Pole and North Pole. He has since dedicated his life to saving the world's largest continent from human destruction – the Antarctic. He set up 2041.com and I have been fortunate enough to get him to speak to many of my pupils. He is so powerful in his message that he leaves the audience so confident and so inspired. What is it that makes him so inspirational?
He thinks that "young people who are at University or who have just left University feel rather conned by the System. They are angry. They thought that if they did well, paid their loans, that there would be a job at the end of the road. This is no longer a given. His suggestion is that they turn this anger into action and get going with their own business ideas and plans. Stop feeling sorry and get on. It is possible!"
Financial and Entrepreneurial training is essential if we are to turn the corner with the economy as well as create the next generation of entrepreneurs.
I like to tell the Gen Y that becoming an entrepreneur is very similar to summating Everest. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world and takes planning and time to get to the summit. It is not without its risks but at the end of the day it is only a walk.
A demanding but steep walk. It may take sometime to get to the top and there might be failures. But it still is only a walk. Gen Y don't need a 2.1 degree from a university to climb it. Gen Y don't need to go to business school. You don't need huge technical knowledge. You start with a dream to be on the top of Everest. Then what Gen Y need is confidence, ambition, optimism, determination and enthusiasm.
It will be hard work and there will be stresses and strains. You will wake in a cold sweat thinking about your summit, but it still is only a walk. You will need Sherpas to help you. These people will bring knowledge and technical know how. In business you can employ similar people to sherpas. Looking at the research, all the Gen Y's strong characteristics suit them to climb Everest. So it can be applied to starting a business.