Generation C: The Rise Of Independent Entrepreneurship
From one generation to the next, we live with the certainty that we will be more successful than previous ones. It’s the lever and the engine of progress, the primary source of motivation for generations to excel and innovate. For each of us, it is the dream that nourishes the hope of a better life.
However, for Generation X (1962 – 1979), that dream was shattered. Forgotten and left behind in some ways by boomers and older generations, they were perhaps the hardest effected by the economic crisis of the early 80s.
At the same time, it is the generation that has probably experienced the most significant changes of our time. From the widespread acceptance of birth control to the economic crisis of the 80s and the breakup of families, they lived through many major social transformations. They witnessed several important events in history; the Apollo landing on the Moon, the deaths of JFK and Martin Luther King, the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rapid emergence of the Internet to the passage of the new Millennium. They are also the first generation trying to introduce new technologies and new approaches to work in enterprises and organizations.
The long ascent of Generation X to decision-making positions
However, a combination of factors worked against young people of Generation X when they began to land in the US labor market in the early 80s. As a result of the baby boom of the post – war (1945 – 1962), more than 77 million baby boomers were monopolizing that market.
Generation X numbered only 65 million. At that time, the world economy suffered not only a slowdown due to the recession, but the arrival of women in the marketplace. More heavily mortgaged than their predecessors, and weighed down by significant student debt, they also had a more difficult time finding stable, well paid jobs.
The first graduates amongst the younger half of Generation X – those born in the early 1970s – who managed to get interesting positions, have quietly climbed the hierarchical levels of organizations, and have become permanently ensconced in decision-making positions since the economic revival of the 90s.
An economic situation that has continued to collapse
The statistics of a study from the Pew Research Institute conducted in the US between 1983 and 2010, and published by Business Insider, showed that over the past two decades, it is the oldest of Generation X (born between 1962 and 1970) (along with the younger boomers (born between 1954 and 1962)) who have the highest net worth – considerably wealthier than the younger half of their generation.
Over the past decade, the situation has not improved for younger generations. With the massive initial influx of Generation Y (a generation comprising approximately 83 million in the US alone), the labor market was literally choked. Since the last recession (2007-2008) around the world, the youth unemployment rate of 19 to 35 year olds has risen to record levels.
The economic situation has also very severely affected young baby boomers and Generation X, who saw their financial net worth halve after the recession. Faced with their family responsibilities, and with the daunting prospect of a suddenly less secure retirement, many managers and CEOs have chosen to extend their careers by clinging to their status as boss.
Even today, according to the ranking of companies INC500, 5% of senior management positions are still occupied by boomers who delay retirement, while 68% are still run by executives of Generation X. However, 48% of those who held senior supervisory positions until the crisis, aspired to senior management positions (according to the Center for Talent Innovation). And since 2010, the youngest of Generation X (born between 1970 and 1979) have seen their hopes of advancements hindered.
Regularly confronted with the fact that they still have mostly dependent children, and that they must simultaneously deal with relatives who are unprepared for retirement (42% of Generation X in this case according to the study), many will opt for early retirement from their corporate jobs in order to embark on the adventure of entrepreneurship, mimicking those of Generation Y.
A boom in entrepreneurship for the next five years
Since 2010, there has been a boom in entrepreneurship, and small businesses run by young people from Generation Y. According to a recent study published by the Bentley University, and written about by Forbes, 67% of young people under 35 already have their own business or considering doing so.
In Canada, according to the latest government statistics (2012), there are already more than 1 million small businesses with less than 100 employees, employing over 5 million people, or 48% of the active workforce in the public sector. In 2011, there were 2.67 million self-employed, or 15.4% of workers employed in the Canadian economy.
With the ever increasing accessibility and easier to install and understand web technology tools, as well as social media, the temptation is alluring to go into business for boomers and those of Generation X who feel pressure to retire due to uncertain conditions. Especially as the financing of new enterprises is encouraged with venture and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.
Also, during the next five years, this trend towards independent entrepreneurship will probably see a further escalation in its growth, as still more of the digital generation opts to take control of their own destinies and follow this path. But I fear that this new normal may not cure the ills of the economy.
However, are these new entrepreneurs sufficiently prepared for the increased competition caused by the inevitable surge in supply on the web and social media? Is it not better to slow the race to entrepreneurship, promoting further the social transformation of existing businesses and organizations, and to ensure staff retention rather responding to the expectations of employability of the new generations? (Read also: Generation C : Four Generations Converge In The Workplace)
What do you think? Do you think the future of the economy depend as much on the independent entrepreneurship? Thinking about throwing yourself your business? What is your experience of entrepreneurship? How are you thinking of using the web and social media to market your business?
This article originally appeared (in French) on the website of RaymondMorin.com. To learn more about his web/social media consulting and conferences services, click on this link)
When Gen X Runs The Show – Anne Fisher – Time Magazine
The Stunning Fall Of Generation X – Mandi Woodruff – Business Insider
Survey of INC 500 CEOS – Who They Are (Infographic) – INC Magazine
Oubliez la génération Y, c’est sur la génération X qu’il faut miser professionnellement – Jean-Noel Chaintreuil – Atlantico Magazine
Image attribution: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_semisatch‘ / 123RF Stock Photo
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