If you haven’t noticed the incredible rush of Millennial Business Owners (MBO) finding their own #hustle lately than you might be living under a rock, or in the back of an Ann Taylor store (fwiw, millennial business owners should never shop there #sorrynotsorry).
Whether you are a blogger, clothing designer, or an independent insurance agent in Tucson like myself — if you are a millennial who has made the decision to jump into business for yourself head first, you’re in desperate need of a fist bump (and serious questioning of your sanity).
We are a different breed folks.
Millennial Business owners use slang phrases like #riseandgrind, #bossbabe, #marketinggame, and my personal favorite #SLAY.
We wake up looking to take on the world with a fresh perspective, we don’t believe in the 9-5, and most importantly, millennials support each other because we are the young, up-and-coming’s of the world who all speak the same language of hustle.
Let’s explore how the lessons I have learned, being a 31 year old business owner can help you through your own
ah-hah “oh crap” moments.
This will be one of the most honest and real posts you’ll probably see on my blog, and if you’ve read some of my other content, you know I am pretty damn real.
A different ball game with a different breed of players
Business for millennials is a different ball game than your, (about to be bold here) let’s call them,….. seasoned business owners. Little salt and pepper, perhaps some cayenne?Millennial Business owners use slang phrases like #riseandgrind, #bossbabe, #marketinggame, and my… Click To Tweet
Before we begin here is your *WARNING LABEL*….
No, I will not be bashing any seasoned business owners here. However, I will be very up front in the realness of what we now face coming into businesses, that has been functioning on all axis for years without a drop of young blood.
This is the new generation of business owners, and we came to play.This is the new generation of business owners, and we came to play. Click To Tweet
Don’t Hate Us Cuz You Ain’t Us
Before we can bust open the “how-to’s” we need to address the “what-is”.
You are a millennial.
You were born between 1982 ish and at the latest, the extremely early 2000. You were born into a generation of internet, the cell phone, and dare I say it… the Nike Air Pippens (you know you waited for them to come out and had them in both white and black). You are young and full of energy.
Everyday people outside your generation are looking at you thinking that you need to wake up and appreciate your youth. You are already up against the hardest thing in the world, so go ahead and triple that ish for the business world.
You have to work harder, faster, and smarter to show the veterans that you deserve a space at the table. On top of that, you’re constantly having to prove to customers and clients that you know your stuff, because for some reason people love to assume that millennials and young people aren’t capable of being intelligent or good at their jobs.for some reason people love to assume that millennials and young people aren't capable of being… Click To Tweet
What I have found in my journey for the Lost Temple of “stop judging my age” (wow I just attempted to tap into my Indiana Jones days) is that it’s not other business owners’ jobs to accept me in my ever ripening years.
Be prepared to not pay attention to the other generations who once also had to go through the struggles you are currently going through. It is however your job to push through the barriers that have been put in your way, simply because older generations of business owners didn’t know any better.
I think we’ve covered the millennial basics… let’s get into the how to survive in the MBO world —
It is Your Job to Evolve
You are sitting in a room filled with a wide range of business owners. You have Bob who is a 35 year veteran, Tina a 6 months in new business owner, and then there is you.
You’ve owned your business for 2 years, and are one of the more adaptive people in your space. You then hear someone stand up in front of you and tell you that “faxing is still all the rage” (oh by the way this really did happen).
Let’s take a moment of silence before what I am about to say shall we?
Unless you are a loan originator or one of the very select few positions in this world that still requires you to actually walk to a printer and physically pick up a fax… this my friend, has just simply got to go.
Old systems like Post-it notes, written down to-do lists, and dare I say, notepads used as mouse pads (yeah Frank I am talking to you) don’t allow you to be efficient whatsoever.
More importantly they don’t allow you to speak the language you need to speak in order to attract and retain new millennial clients.
Let’s be honest here folks, if you don’t have a brand, and/or game-plan for attracting millennials, your business will be drying up here in about 3….2…..1.As a millennial, it is your job to evolve Click To Tweet
Here are some tips and hacks that’ll help your business move into the 21st century.
Millennial Business Owner By-laws
- E-Fax– For those who insist on still having faxes (I get it sometimes its necessary) look into something like Efax, Ring Central, or my personal fave is Smart Fax
- Get Rid of “Written Messages”. How great would it be if you take a message for someone and you could just simply type it out and boom sent? To add to the allure… imagine a world where Sally swears she didn’t get your physical note you left while she was at lunch, but now you can say “oh here… here is where it showed I sent it”.(Pro-tip: If you’re a Gmail-for-business user, you can track opens and other activity with the Mixmax browser extension. It’s free, and awesome.)Everyone close their mouths and immediately download Slack, Brosix, or even Skype for messenger apps. Pick one that works best for your team and get on it. This is a non negotiable for millennial business owners.
- The Virtual Notebook. Just because we are youthful and don’t have wrinkles yet (ok maybe some of us don’t have wrinkles yet) doesn’t mean everything needs to be hi-tech. The millennial business owner needs to chose a place to collect information for their customers, clients, etc.The days of “I’ll see you when I see you” just simply doesn’t work for the millennial business owner. I personally enjoy still using my Tul notebook that you can add and remove pages to however I know a lot of millennial business owners who prefer to just do all their notes virtually.Things to be cautious of when doing things in a notebook (the good ole way) make sure you don’t get behind. Notes should never turn into a task sheet *Side note… I have a slight office-supply addiction that I am fighting, so please refrain from telling me about any other TUL products that recently released*
- File Folders. As a millennial business owner it is imperative for you to ditch the file folders. Should I coddle that a little bit more? Weeeeelll sorry I just can’t. Your business needs a CRM (or at the very least, PaperPort)CRM= Customer Relationship Management. This is a software that helps you manage things like marketing, customer notations, billings, documentation, and customer follow-ups. There are multiple layers to a CRM, but the moral of the story is, a CRM knows everything, tracks everything, and makes you look like a BEAST. #beastmodeThere are so many out there though, so here are a few that might help make it easier to find one that fits your needs. Zoho CRM I’ve heard great things about, Salesforce is also a great tool, and another one specifically for my industry of insurance is AMS360.If you are in industry where you have a good outreach, I would also recommend asking your peers of millennials. Make today the last day you run to the file cabinet to get a customer file.
- The Manual Follow Up. We’ve all done it, wrote a little note down or put a calendar note in Outlook, and after this I still might not sway you. However… if I can make you think about the way you follow up with your customers and to-do’s, then we are doing something right here.I mentioned getting a killer CRM above that works for you, so on top of that what if you could automatically schedule your email marketing following-ups to make sure you are capturing business? Sounds like magic beans right?Many CRM’s build this in for you, but the more automated your business is… the more time you have to capture business, surf Pinterest (woah just me here?), and build relationships. I personally am extremely bias to Active Campaign because it’s fast, affordable (I pay $9/mo, yes $9) and super easy to use.Other reputable automation tools are InfusionSoft (more advanced and expensive), Constant Contact, or Drip (which not gonna lie, I like them because their slogan is Drip Marketing that Doesn’t Suck).
You are a Millennial Business Owner so spend money like one
This is where some of my closest friends shake their heads because they have personally watched me do this over and over again. So follow me now as I give it to you straight from the mouth of someone who has experience:
Unless you have 3-6 months income for your business in your savings account then you should not be purchasing anything other than the very basics for what you need to keep your business functioning. PUT DOWN THE NEW MACBOOK.
You don’t flipping need it. Just Stop.
Sure you are young, vibrant, and full of energy. Go you.
However guess what… you are also either a bootstrapped startup, or in a young business, so pay your dues, and as I always try to remind myself, think like a millionaire.
Here are some tips to help you think like a millionaire, and get you through the what I lovingly call, the “RAMEN NOODLE PHASE”:
- You’re broke not homeless. Dress like you own the joint no matter where you go. This is not just directed at my fellow female business owners, this is also directed at you millennial men out there.It’s one thing if you spend the day from home busting out Etsy crafts in your pj’s (all power to my sisters who sleep with glitter in their hair and glue under their nails), however it is quite frankly another thing if you are a business professional in the networking/working world.Focus on key pieces for your wardrobe like blazers for the girls, slacks for the guys, and don’t be afraid to bling that ish up. The key to branding is in the details. People notice how you are put together.They will be more likely to do business with the person who looks like they can handle the business as opposed to someone who rolled off a treadmill (no never done this *insert eye roll here*) or out of bed. Get your wardrobe together folks. The hipster, “I don’t give a rip” look doesn’t cut it in business. Step your attire game way up. #attiregamecray
- Let your next idea be fueled by the smoke and mirrors. No I am not trying to “pull one over on you” but crap folks… I launched a second division of my company within a year, all for little to nothing because I just got creative with people in my space.Remember this. Everything you do has to be treated like it is the greatest thing to happen since the Louis Vuitton Kimono Tote (hell yeah I linked to that… because just in case Santa reads my blogs… fingers crossed). Everything you do as a millennial business owner has to be teased like that largest thing of all time.Sit down and plan and execute your launches correctly. Not everyone should, or can, pull off the launch of an insurance agency website, company, or expansion. The only way to do it appropriately is preparation, perception, and strategic partnerships (stay tuned more to come on that).
- Who you surround yourself with is the single most important part about being a smart MBO. If you surround yourself with people who are just doing the J.O.B , what creative juices are they going to invest in you?Are you continuously dumping into others but very rarely feeling invested in by others? Are you the only in the room who excites everyone else with your big ideas but aren’t leaving with some of your own?YOU ARE IN THE WRONG FLIPPING ROOM, not to worry… so was I.Leave immediately, because before you know it, you become a free business consultant and/or someone who people just befriend so they can steal your secret business sauce from you.Important: Build a network of strategic partners that talk you up and get excited about your success. People who want to to see you grow. People you can grow with.Like the old saying goes, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” You better make those people count. Trust me when I tell you no good comes from the ones who suck your brain dry. They leave you feeling empty, weak, and alone.Be weary of people who are simply using you for your name and your great ideas. Dump them. Make sure your power house friends reflect your personal style, goals, and visions. If you roll up in an Audi, and they all roll up in a 67 Volvo with leather patches in their front seats, it could be time to re-evaluate your tribe.
Millennials in Business means one other piece… we are of Reproducing Age!
I joke around about turning 30. I feel like when I was 25 all my friends were getting married. Now I am 31 and the invitations for baby showers and LuLaRoe Parties fill my inbox (and for the record no… I don’t own any leggings).
This is the piece of the MBO puzzle that even I have to do a double take on sometimes. I am a MOMMY!
As a MBO, one of the things we are up against with our age is that we are in ripe, child bearing years! We are up against the in-laws asking us when they will have a grandbaby, father time cursing us as we wait one more year, or maybe even a spouse who has waited their whole life to have kids.
Welp…. this is the truth — my kids have enriched my life for sure. However they have also hindered the hell out of me being a business owner.
You have probably seen me blog or speak by now about the reality of being a Millennial Mom. In fact this article was originally meant to be the sequel to the article featured in the link just mentioned on a national insurance publication.
However, being a mom or a dad will only handcuff you as a MBO if you let it.
Here are a few tips and tricks that have helped me in those moments when I am five seconds from putting one of my four children on E-bay:
- Have a space for you. As MBO’s it’s easy to say the following “I’ll just work from home at the kitchen table”. I get it if this is your jam, then do it. It however has proven not to be mine. Just be ok with what you need an adapt quickly. Working from home is a bitch (It’s my personal blog so I’m gonna say bitch). Just own it and don’t be afraid to adapt if you need it.
- Mommy needs a break folks. Have a VICE. Yes, I am giving you permission to get Starbucks every day. *Pro-Tip not a good move however if you are still in the RAMEN NOODLE PHASE *
- Own your crazy. Find Facebook groups like #IMOMSOHARD, SCARY MOMMY, or even follow my blog here to see you are not alone. I enjoy The Mogul Mom as well as I plow through my day. We all want to do a stop, drop, and roll on our kids in the morning as we head out the door to work. Then we want to scoop them and snuggle at night. The struggle is real and Facebook support groups for millennial parents are a dime a dozen.
- Let’s openly discuss the mommy guilt. I do however want to also call it #dadguilt. Let’s do it right and call it #mboguilt. Here are a couple things I’ve used personally to help with time slotting so you can cast that guilt away.
- Cozi App– This app is kick butt. It is like a CRM but wait for it… for your family! You can organize your calendars (joint calendars for spouses are a must), look at grocery needs, and even create to do lists for teens who have mobile access! Can I get an AMEN?!!!
- Toodledo– Besides this being a name that makes me lol, it is actually a sleek version of merging your work and home in one app. It is intuitive and also not obnoxious to look at. Kiss forgetting Billy’s soccer game Wednesday at 5:00 pm away… because you will be there.
- Make Peace with No Play Groups. Now, if you want to go to play groups… then by all means do it. However, do not under any circumstances let a fellow mom ever say to you this “Oh… you own your own company and work from home, you make your own schedule so you can definitely make it”. I am just going to not comment on this one ok? We will just leave that there.
The exciting part of tearing this all apart is that MBO’s are not only a different breed but we are not easily understood coming up in the business world. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that if it wasn’t for our seasoned predecessors then we probably wouldn’t have anything to expand on or grow from.
It is our job to turn everything we touch into something to be excited about and special, but more importantly, to know that as we are walking in the grocery store covered in #mommyguilt, while trying to get our cell phone answered (because we can’t live forever in the TOP RAMEN NOODLE PHASE), that all we need from you is to not hear “you need balance in your life”.
A fist bump, a head nod, and maybe even the toss of a Butterfinger into our shopping cart would do just fine.
When you fight for the next few years developing your business and yourself just know the battles ahead of you will be uncertain. You will be questioned as to why you deserve to be there, asked for ridiculous amount of expectations, and sadly have to find at least 53 ways to politely say “Yes I am old enough to be here”.
When you look back on your life and upon the next generation to follow us and take our lead it is essentially our job to pave the way for them so they can improve and be better at all the things we weren’t.
So as Haymitch said so perfectly in the Hunger Games… “here’s my advice. Stay Alive.”My advice for millennials — STAY ALIVE Click To Tweet