Young business owners don't define success by how much money they make. Instead, 79 percent of millennial small business owners measure the success of their business on whether they have a flexible work environment and a healthy balance between their personal and professional worlds, found a study from Xero.
Additionally, 67 percent of those surveyed said being able to maintain a schedule that allows them to travel and pursue personal interests is the second most important benchmark of a successful business.
Being in charge of their careers is why most young entrepreneurs wanted to become business owners. More than half of millennials surveyed said being their own boss was one of the biggest motivators for starting their own business.
"During the financial crisis, it quickly became clear that even the most dedicated of employees could be disposed of, and this has carried over into the way millennials view the corporate world today," the study's authors wrote. "Rather than working at a job for 20 or more years doing something they have no real passion for, more millennials are choosing to take the road less traveled."
Overall, many young business owners are upbeat about their prospects for the future. The study found that nearly half of those surveyed are cautiously optimistic about their company's growth. [See Related Story: Millennial Women Ditching Corporate World for Entrepreneurship]
There are several factors fueling their optimism. Nearly 60 percent of the millennial small business owners surveyed have a loyal customer base and 57 percent report increased revenue. In addition, 31 percent said their profits are on the rise.
Increased costs are the biggest fear of those surveyed. More than 40 percent of young small business owners said they worry that rising costs will eventually force them to close their doors for good.
The research shows that millennial small business owners are taking the lead on using the cloud and social media to run their operation. More than one-third of millennial entrepreneurs run the majority of their business functions in the cloud, compared with only one-fifth of baby boomers.
"As a generation that grew up using the internet, it's not that surprising that millennials are the ones with the highest percentage of their businesses running entirely in the cloud," the study's authors wrote.
When communicating with customers, the majority of young small business owners turn to Facebook and Twitter. More than 60 percent of those surveyed said social media is the channel of choice for one-to-one communications with customers.
"Social media is another channel that didn't exist 20 years ago, so millennials have the upper hand in understanding how to use social networks to engage with their potential and current customers," the researchers wrote. "Millennials understand that in today's world, you need to meet your customers where they are and given that 78 percent of the U.S. population (Statista) has at least one social media profile, it's a channel that can't be ignored."
The study was based on surveys of more than 1,200 current and former owners of U.S. businesses, from ages 18 to over 30.