The millennial generation is uniquely qualified for entrepreneurship, perhaps more than any other generation before. As millennials, a group defined by birth between 1982 and 2004, approach their late 30s, they have been in the workforce long enough now for the rest of us to see how they work and what works for them in entrepreneurial situations. This is a generation born into technology; their familiarity is second nature, such that automation and efficiency is always a guiding principle. So is being purpose-driven, active and insistent on a better answer, now. What was once “There’s an app for that” is now “What else can it do so that we accomplish more with less?” It is an exciting time to be in business, where landscape shifts seismically, globally and quickly. Communication is instant. Success feels overnight and effortless. It is not.
To distill my observations into usable recommendations, here are five tips for millennial entrepreneurs.
Be clear, be bold and declare your purpose.
It is no secret the marketplace is noisy. Launching a new product is daunting; how can one stand out and be heard? Most young entrepreneurs struggle to be noticed.
The key is to be bold in declaring who you are, what your product is and how your product solves a problem in a fresh, dynamic way. Sometimes an entrepreneur is too close to see themselves. You must step back and know who you are and what you are offering, even if what you are offering is a gentle, kind, calm option. You will still want to have great, captivating imagery that declares your product’s intent immediately. Why are the images so important? On Facebook, the world’s most extensive social media network, 85% of all videos are watched now with the sound off. The story has to come through with just images and subtitles.
Be visible: Get seen everywhere.
Here is where millennials have the ultimate advantage. Being seen everywhere now is less about being seen in person than being found online in as many modalities as possible. The more extensive your digital footprint, the higher the chances of you being discovered. Naturally, your home base is your website, but then you want to use social networks to intersect your different buyer segments at multiple decision points in their buyers’ journeys. Educational videos, in both short and long form, are the new product demo, which no longer needs to be live and in person at a stand-up booth in the mall. Google says that almost 50% of internet users will look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.
In addition to videos, blog posts and articles that offer helpful tips work well, as does your backstory. Marketing experts will refer to it as your “why.”
Promote until you lose sleep.
Evangelize. Offer yourself as an expert to journalists, podcasters and television bookers. In each case, they will want to see who you are and what you have to offer. Use these requests to inspire your content. Otherwise, it can feel overwhelming. Remember, an article that appeals to one show’s audience is likely something another audience would enjoy as well.
Content can also be repurposed to extend your reach without your having to come up with new material continually. An article can be chunked into tweets and summarized into short-form videos or a slide deck. Every podcast, TV show, blog, newspaper and magazine needs content. Furthermore, a series of articles can become a white paper and, with perhaps a few more images, graphics and not too many words, evolve into a short e-book.
Once you have a podcast or interview, you can have it transcribed, which can then become articles, blog posts or newsletter features and be syndicated out to various properties across your network. It will feel like an intense process at first, but it is remarkable how quickly it becomes second nature.
Collaborate: Borrow influence on the way up.
In any vertical, there are people ahead and behind. The road to entrepreneurship is rarely uninhabited, no matter which industry you are in. Those who have experienced some success already experience similar original content pressures. They can help you, and you can help them via a technique that has gained traction for many years now: collaboration, or “collabs,” as they are known in vernacular.
A company turning collabs into an art form is the street clothing brand Supreme. Typically, Supreme will produce a custom, “limited edition” (short run) of a line of clothes with the other brand’s mark or logo, often using their colors. Both companies benefit from exposure to a different audience.
It is not all a bed of roses, however. Dave Erwin, a millennial entrepreneur from the rapidly growing company iRocker, found that collaboration doesn’t always lead immediately and automatically to huge exposure or great results. Instead, he has stressed to me the importance of working with the right companies and developing strong working relationships.
Your buyers buy more than your product; they buy the complete package — your why, your history and your principles. They want to know the full story: how the beans are grown, picked and delivered fresh to your table, how each widget is hand-checked for quality by someone specific or why each jacket comes with a red thread on the inside pocket. All of these kinds of details contribute to the folklore of a brand. The story defends your price, illustrates the value and makes you stand out as an aspirational brand.
Millennials who are determined to succeed can do so. It takes conviction, courage and consistent messaging with bold imagery and stories that explain, entertain and compel buyers to take action.
Article by Forbes Magazine