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Gen Z: The new entrepreneurs



Generation Z, whose oldest members are between the ages of 18 and 23, is already displaying a passion for entrepreneurship. They grew up in the shadow of the Great Recession, seeing their parents struggle financially and their older millennial siblings battle for scarce jobs. They don’t want to live out the same nightmare, so they are wary of taking on debt (21 percent percent already have savings accounts). A higher percentage of Gen Z will attend and graduate from college than any prior generation, they are already planning how to avoid college loans. More than half (60 percent) of Gen Z believe money is evidence of success, compared to 44 percent of millennials at the same age. 70 percent of Gen Z’ers earn their own spending money—about the same percentage as millennials, except that Gen Z is 10 years younger. Gen Z doesn't want to be at the mercy of employers so they are choosing non-traditional ways to earn a living. Nearly half (46 percent) of Gen Z workers are freelancers. While some Gen Z workers choose the self-reliance of freelancing, others go one step further by pursuing entrepreneurship. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Generation Z want to be financially independent by age 30, five years after finishing college, 20 percent want to be entrepreneurs. Gen Z is realistic about their prospects—77 percent expect to work harder than previous generations to achieve success. They’re also confident: 80 percent of high school students believe they’re more driven than their peers. This is the first demographic to grow up in a fully digital world. Weaned on YouTube videos, Gen Z’ers know they can learn anything online—from how to make natural cosmetics to how to use 3D printers or find suppliers. They live their lives online and are natural social media marketers. For some, showing bigger businesses (and older people) how to reach Gen Z is a business in itself. Back in high school, Tiffany Zhong knew she wanted to be her own boss, so she started asking venture capitalists for advice. When VCs started asking her for Gen Z insights, Zhong realized she had a business on her hands. Today, her marketing firm Zebra Intelligence helps brands connect with Gen Z. Many others have capitalized on their Gen Z status to consult with businesses on managing and marketing to this generation. Other Gen Z entrepreneurs sell products:

  • Taylor Frankel co-founded cosmetics brand Nudestix at 17; today, the company’s products are sold in Ulta and Sephora.

  • Allan Maman and Cooper Weiss, founders of Fidget360, gained viral fame (and made hundreds of thousands of dollars) by capitalizing on the fidget spinner craze in high school. (Weiss has since been involved in other startups while Maman is working on a new venture.)

  • Teni “Tia” Adeola launched Slashed by Tia from her dorm room in 2017, creating clothing based on her passion for Renaissance painting; today her designs are worn by celebrities such as SZA and Gigi Hadid.

Social media marketing and an instinctual connection with their peers online were key to success. The new entrepreneur is younger and smarter, using technology instinctively to connect with customers.

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