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Message To GenY Entrepreneurs: Be Proactive!

Stephen Kennedy

Happy Entrepreneurship Day! Ok, ok, we may have made that up for dramatic effect, but you’ll have to excuse our excitement as we celebrate the release of “Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth.” As was discussed on Unboxed Thoughts earlier this week, Army of Entrepreneurs is the brainchild of CJP’s CEO Jennifer Prosek and it hits bookstands today!

Interestingly, the release of book follows the publishing of an entrepreneurship survey put out by Buzz Marketing Group and the Young Entrepreneur Council (it was sponsored by LegalZoom). The study, which surveyed 1,623 GenYers  (“The Millennials”), sought to explore how this generation of business professionals’ views entrepreneurism. In sum, the data showed that 1) GenYers are incredibly interested in starting their own businesses and 2) they overwhelmingly believe that entrepreneurship education is important.

To be honest, this information did not strike me as new and different. We have all heard the stories about the Millennials (and I am one) haven’t we? They are self absorbed. Tech savvy with an astute ability to multitask. They have shorter attention spans, but think creatively.  Often referred to as the “Me Generation,” the demographic has a need for instant – and sustained – gratification and praise. So it’s not shocking to me that this group would want to own their own business and call their own shots.

What I did find interesting from the survey was this:

  • 89% believe that entrepreneurship education is important given the new economy and job market
  • Only 29% had been offered a class on entrepreneurship
  • 72% said those classes did not adequately prepare them to start a business
  • 73% of respondents were not offered any classes on entrepreneurship in college

From this, it is clear that GenY is eager to learn, eager to take classes and become scholars of entrepreneurism. This is great… but also incredibly flawed. To me this data says, “I want someone to be offered the opportunity to learn” or “I want to be given an opportunity.” If this is your mentality, I question whether or not you truly have an entrepreneur’s mindset.

To take this one step further, one respondent to survey went so far as to offer the following comment, “I believe entrepreneurship education is very important and I don’t see much of it.” To this I say loudly, THEN GO OUT AN FIND IT!

Entrepreneurism is not about being shown where to look, how to create, and when to lead. It’s about taking chances, being bold, and pursuing passion. There are plenty of opportunities to learn, but they will not fall into your lap.

English poet William Ernest Henley opined in his famous Victorian poem Invictus, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” We as individual entrepreneurs create our own destiny. There is almost never a charted course, but we grab the wheel and steer boldly into unknown relying on the team of people around us. We most certainly do not sit by and wait for someone to come and give us a step-by-step tutorial on how to steer the ship.

I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career to work for an agency that has promoted this unique Army of Entrepreneurs model, where each employee is encouraged to maintain an owner’s mindset. I genuinely believe that I have learned far more by proactively seeking out the advice and guidance of  Jen and my colleagues then I ever would sitting in a classroom or listening to a guest lecture. Certainly not each of us works in an environment where this progressive way of thinking is commonplace. But as entrepreneurs we all have passion and I would implore each of you to use that passion as a roadmap to proactively seek out your own entrepreneurial education. Because let’s face it… it’s not going to find you.

* To learn more about Jen Prosek’s new book “Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth” visit CJP

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