I spoke with twenty of my peers, ages twenty-one through twenty-six, about their career aspirations. As I listened to all of their amazing dreams, I noticed one major commonality between sixteen out of twenty: they all aspired to have some sort of entrepreneurial endeavor, and didn't see corporate leadership as their end-all-be-all. Every day, I look at social media, and I see people in my age group starting new businesses or starting to take content creation seriously. I take a look at Instagram bio after Instagram bio, and a lot of them read "Founder," "CEO," or "Creator." There is undoubtedly an epidemic of entrepreneurship in our generation, and there are a number of reasons why it's occurring.
First things first, we want to run sh*t. We are undoubtedly the generation of instant gratification. When we dream about our desired careers, we don't dream about the journey and the milestones; we dream about the so-called "end result." We dream about being the CEO, the Creative Director, or the Editor-in-Chief, and we create these make-believe aesthetics surrounding these high-status positions. We see example after example of people in our generation gracing the Forbes list, breaking barriers, and doing amazing things in business despite their young age. So, in our limitless minds, we think: "Why would I work for years and years at a company when I can achieve this status right away with my own business? That's so much cooler!" We acknowledge that we have the ability to do and be anything we want to be in this world. But unfortunately, we have the tendency to subconsciously believe that it's as easy as it looks and happens as quickly as it does for the small percentage of people who achieve instant gratification.
The reality of the fact is that entrepreneurship is really really really hard. According to NBCS, only 40% of small businesses yield a profit, about 30% of businesses break even, and the final 30% lose money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of business fail within their first two years, and 45% of businesses fail within their first five years. And, according to Think Impact, entrepreneurs only make up 16% of the adult workforce in the United States. In other words, entrepreneurship, and successful entrepreneurship, is not the norm. If it was easy to start and maintain a successful business, everyone would be doing it.
Although entrepreneurship is extremely hard for most people and requires an insane amount of discipline, resilience, and grit, social media has made it seem sexy, easy, and fun. I think this is for a couple of reasons. The first reason is the influx of celebrity entrepreneurs. It-girls like the Kardashians, Hailey Bieber, Selena Gomez, Rihanna, and more have made starting a business seem swift and seamless. Photos of them speaking on business panels in their designer pantsuits or walking down the street with a laptop under their arm and a cute outfit have contributed to this entrepreneurship aesthetic that we have in our heads. But the truth is that these celebrities have some of the most strategic minds in business backing their brands and doing the nitty gritty work that regular entrepreneurs have to do all by themselves. Another reason why entrepreneurship has been shaped as sexy and simple is because of influencers. Many influencers end up starting their own podcasts and businesses once they get a certain amount of followers, and they fool us about what it really takes to start a business for a normal person. The reality of entrepreneurship is not the cutesy cutesy vibes. It's continuous imposter syndrome, sleepless nights, countless mental breakdowns, and endless confusion about what steps you should take next. The sh*t takes some thick a** skin!
Now, I do realize that a lot of the aspiring entrepreneurs in our generation are also doing what they have to do and not just doing it because it sounds sexy. We are currently in a recession, and the job market is trash. Recent graduates can't find jobs, and people in their early careers are being laid off. I recognize that this creates a lack of trust in the corporate world, leading us to resort to starting businesses. Amidst these challenging economic times and shifting career landscapes, it's crucial to acknowledge the dual impact of external pressures and the allure of social media validation on our generation's entrepreneurial aspirations.
A major contributing factor to this epidemic of entrepreneurship is both social media deception and announcement culture in our generation. We love to announce new accomplishments and endeavors. We love to see the influx of comments hyping us up and calling us "bosses" and "G.O.A.T.S"(greatest of all time). We aren't really the type to sit back and quietly build something. We love to seemingly be on our sh*t and running sh*t. Because of this, I think we must ask ourselves, is entrepreneurship something that we actually want, or does it just sound impressive? Anyone can start something, but when it gets real, can they handle it? Many of the people I've seen in our generation launch their brands over the past few years have quickly gotten bored with them, and they simply vanish from their Instagram bio over time. I think something smart to do in order to refrain from just randomly launching businesses and throwing new ideas out there would be to ask ourselves if we would start and run this business behind the scenes without any personal recognition? Would we wake up every single day and put the work in if it wasn't in our Instagram bio, vlogged about on TikTok, or announced on our page? No shade.... just a genuine suggestion.
I say this all to say, entrepreneurship is not for everybody. But there is an interesting trend of entrepreneurship in our generation that makes it seem as though it is for everybody. But at the end of the day, working for somebody else is okay! It's more than okay! If there's nobody to work in corporate, what will happen? If the world is full of CEOs and nobody to join teams and help ideas come to life, what would happen? In the grand tapestry of our evolving professional landscape, entrepreneurship may be an enticing thread, but it's not the sole fabric. As we navigate our career choices, let's remember that diversity in our aspirations and roles is what truly propels innovation and progress. Whether we choose the path of entrepreneurship or corporate employment, what truly matters is that we remain authentic to our own passions and ambitions, and not simply succumb to the allure of trends and external validation. In a world teeming with CEOs, it's the synergy of varied talents and roles that ultimately propels society forward.