Are you an aspiring entrepreneur between ages 18 and 33? If so, you're a millennial, and part of the first generation to grow up with the Internet, social media and mobile technology.
Unlike previous generations, millennials haven't had to adapt to these new technologies. "They understand the dynamics and the power of the Web better than everybody else that got to experience it later on in life," said Boris Wertz, founder of Version One Ventures. This advantage, combined with the desire to work at something that matches their interests and passions, make millennials uniquely qualified to launch new businesses.
If you're part of this demographic, here are some ideas and inspiration for coming up with new business ideas.
Ignore your parents' warning … talk to strangers
In today's social-media driven world, millennials continuously expand their social circles and networks to include people they meet online. As businesses and individuals increasingly turn to the Internet to purchase goods and services, millennial entrepreneurs have a jump on older entrepreneurs who may hesitate to freely connect with people they don't know in the "real world."
"New businesses succeed under the premise of sharing something with the people that matter, or even better, strangers online," said Riad Chikhani, the 19-year-old founder and CEO of the gaming social networking site Gamurs. "Sites such as Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram are emblematic of that," he said. "Not only can you connect with the people you know, you are also able to connect with completely new people."
The demand for shared online information, entertainment and tools isn't going away, and "sharing with strangers" is the perfect area for millennials to seize business opportunities. [Looking for a business idea? Visit our business ideas page]
Take your parents' advice … get a job?
Yes, you read that correctly. A business founded by somebody else is the perfect spot for aspiring millennial entrepreneurs to find new business ideas, said Greg Archbald, proud millennial and founder and CEO of oil and gas mobile app Greasebook.
"Get a great job at a great company," Archbald said. "Then find all the processes that are broken in that company. Ask around. See if your friends working at similar companies have similar issues." Archbald said the key is to then take these problematic processes, quit your job, and work to develop a solution to solve the issue. Then, sell your solution to your old company and the companies of your friends. Archbald said that millennials' technical knowledge and familiarity is an advantage when it comes to updating and streamlining processes.
"We millennials have become adept to, or spoiled by, some really wonderful, inexpensive, free, easy, powerful and aesthetically pleasing software," he said. "As we continue to enter the work force, we begin to understand how disorganized and outdated many of the workflows and systems are in a majority of companies in every industry."
Archbald said that working as an employee, gaining expertise on a specific workflow or process, and building relationships with industry peers combine to make an inspiring environment for millennial entrepreneurs trying to identify and develop new business ideas.
"Someone setting out on a new venture could really up their chances for success," he said. "It's how I got my start!"
Keep it simple
Remember the saying "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door?" It still holds true, but with a twist. Make it simple, and make it something that you and your millennial friends would use to save time and/or money.
"Uber is an amazing example of this," Chikhani said, referring to the American startup car-sharing service that had a recent estimated worth of $18.2 billion less than five years after launching. “It connects normal people to cabs and drivers around their city, which is such a trivial part of one's life."
Whatever service or problem you focus on, choose something you feel strongly about, Wertz said.
"The basic rule for any entrepreneur of any age is that you will be most successful if you work on a problem that you are really passionate about solving," Wertz said. "Don't focus too much on specific verticals or industries only because they might be attractive, but rather choose a space you want to work in for a long time."
Use mobile and Web knowledge to innovate
Because millennials grew up in an age of rapidly advancing technology, they're comfortable with innovating to improve on existing products and services.
"A lot of innovation for millennials happens in areas like hardware, 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and all things mobile," Wertz said. He also pointed to health care, education and new e-commerce models as other areas where young entrepreneurs can make their mark with innovative ideas, because millennials have one key advantage over other age groups.
"To succeed in any of these areas, it is important to have great product instincts and execution," Wertz said. Also, most successful businesses today depend on the Internet, social media and mobile devices in some form. "Many millennials might have an advantage in this respect because of their intuitive understanding of the Web and mobile," he said.