A picture is worth a thousand words – so if you want a picture that adequately describes the fast-pace shift in future business trends, then just imagine a millennial taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
The “disrupt everything” movement is devouring everything in its past and traditional business models are being turned upside down. From the sharing economy with Airbnb and Uber that has left hotels and taxi cab companies panting to catch up to innovations in AI and robotics that are eliminating the need for cashiers and burger flippers – the fourth industrial revolution is on a tear and the millennials are coming full-force.
You might dismiss this as the march of technology and changing trends – but the reality is that the millennials are forging their own path due to a range of external and internal factors.
The traditional view of ownership and retirement is already being challenged – they’ve seen what recessions and unemployment have done to their parents’ dreams and they are determined to avoid those disappointments. They know that Social Security is in a precarious financial situation – 81% of millennials don’t believe they will collect their benefits so they want to do things their own way and on their own time.
Everything is being redefined – and the unique traits of millennials are evidence of what has been described as the “millennial manifesto” or the “millennial monsoon”. They are changing everything, from the way we look – 82% of millennial men are growing some sort of facial hair and there is even a millennial guide for beards now to how we dress – thrift shops are growing 20x than traditional retailers and on and on.
Investors and entrepreneurs who want to succeed in this environment will need to carefully study millennial trends and how millennials respond to the increasingly sophisticated marketing campaigns that disrupt the status quo. Ethics and authenticity mean a lot to millennials and each step needs to be carefully thought out to prevent missteps that would make your company appear tone deaf – even if its not.
Think about it from a millennials point of view. They’ve grown up in the era of the 24 hours news cycle. Every natural disaster and war crime gets wall-to-wall coverage that is difficult to escape. So if you want to appeal to millennials you have to authentically appeal to their values. Distribution and retail might be re-aligning but, thankfully, the humanity of millennials and their concern for others is a solid and comforting presence that has remained unchanged.
If done the right way, a proper marketing campaign can garner the business of millions of millennials. On the other hand, the stakes are so high that if you take the wrong step your business might get enough bad publicity to last a lifetime.
Entrepreneurs would do themselves a huge favor by studying the rise and fall of vaunted startups, where they went wrong and what could they have done better. This is yet another factor that separates millennials from others – they share why they think they failed and what they learned from the process.
For an entrepreneur, to have that kind of valuable insight is a gold mine but unfortunately many entrepreneurs ignore these case studies at their own peril. Even if your business is not a venture backed startup – you stand to gain a lot from learning what worked and what didn’t. You will be pleasantly surprised by how much you can apply to your own business because every single one of these startups knows that in order to succeed they absolutely need to appeal to millennials. Take a page from their playbook and apply a few ideas to your business or better yet, learn from their mistakes and you’ll be a better entrepreneur.