Contrary to popular belief Millennials are not the most entrepreneurial generation in American history. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo., nonprofit that focuses on entrepreneurship, shows that portion of young adults who start a business each month dropped in 2013 to its lowest level in at least 17 years, ages 20 to 34 accounted for 22.7% of new entrepreneurs in 2013, down from 26.4% in 2003.
Gen X-ers make up the highest percentage of startup founders, at 55%, while Boomers are 31% more likely to say it was “somewhat” to “extremely easy” to start their business than Millennials, according to survey conducted by Sage North America, a leading provider of business management software and services to small and medium-sized businesses.
“The State of the Startup Survey” provides insight into the motivation, business practices and performance of new business startups. The survey revealed that most of the business owners had no prior startup experience. About 59% were motivated by a desire to be their own boss, while 48% were following a passion they wanted to turn into a business.
The most striking difference among generations was their engagement with marketing functions, especially social. Boomers are 2.4 times less likely than millennials to use social media marketing tactics. The top three challenges experienced by startup founders are growing revenue, 46%, acquiring customers, 42% and securing capital, 41% percent.
In order to discover the secrets of why some startups thrive while others struggle, Sage grouped the startup founders into tiers based on their companies’ performance against a key set of business metrics. The top-tier startups are more profitable, growing faster and more aggressively hiring.
According to the Sage findings, the top three mistakes made by founders are taking on too much debt, not conducting adequate market research and an inability to control costs. Additionally, new businesses most often struggle with growing revenue, adding customers and producing accurate financials.
10 key lessons learned from successful entrepreneurs:
- Find a partner. Top-tier startups were 59% more likely than the bottom tier to have more than one founder.
- Don’t skip the business plan. Successful founders were 78 percent more likely than the bottom tier to have created a formal business plan before launching their new business.
- Recruit professional advisors. The best startups lean on the wisdom and experience of trusted advisors such as accountants and mentors.
- Embrace the latest marketing techniques. Today’s top entrepreneurs are masters of websites, social media, forums and the latest marketing tactics.
- Balance! Unexpectedly, the most successful entrepreneurs were 58% more likely than the bottom tier to report a “great” balance between work and life.
- Don’t wing it; have a plan. Create a formal business plan to help you set strategies and goals and secure financing.
- Do your research. Conduct a thorough market analysis of target customers, competitors and current trends.
- Hire a trusted advisor. Determine where you need advice and who can provide it to you.
- Network. Attend events and workshops to increase your knowledge, discuss new concepts and exchange ideas.
- Forge your own path. Sometimes it is best to take the road less traveled, and do it your way. There are times when you need to break the rules to grow and succeed.