If you are a GenY/Millennial, you have a lot going for you when starting and running a business. As a group, GenY/Millennials have tremendous confidence. Multi-tasking comes naturally. And your digital native understanding of social media and internet savvy serves you well.
These same traits can get in your way. Lenders know this and can worry that your generational traits will be an obstacle in your path to business success and as a result, your ability to repay their loan. Here are some solutions to the potential downside of Millennial tendencies. Put them in practice and find subtle (and perhaps not so subtle) ways to let your business lender know.
Find mentors in business.
Include family members who are in business. Mentors in the same or a related business are helpful, but anyone who has started a business successfully will be a plus. Select mentors of a variety of ages and stage of business.
o Spend time with them
o Have open-ended conversations
o Bring specific challenges to them
You can let the lender know by referencing them in your business plan or bringing them up in conversation.
Multi-tasking can be a blessing or a curse. Allowing 24/7 access through email, texting and IM sometimes breaks concentration on critical tasks or perennially delegates the important-but-not-urgent to the yet-to-be-done list. Like the rest of these traits, this is not solely a challenge for GenY/Millennials but may be more so. Many Millennials I know think they have special powers to get things done well despite the constant interruptions. Don’t count on it.
o Check email and respond to IM periodically instead of constantly
o Turn off audible and visual clues that email has arrived
o Schedule uninterrupted time for major projects and planning
You can let the lender know by focusing when you are with them and by sharing information on major initiatives that clearly take focus to accomplish. Did you go away on a two-day retreat to plan your latest product launch? That demonstrates focus. Oh, and turn off your cell phone when you are with them. Really…turn it off.
Approach technology, social media and the internet as a student
The use of social media, search-optimized websites and other online business strategies are different in significant ways than what GenY/Millennials have experienced in their personal life. As digital natives, however, it is easy to think you already know what you need to know. Time to go back to school on the business use of the internet.
o In setting up your social media sites for business, look at the profiles of business people you admire. Consider the mix of personal and business information. See how they create key-word rich, linked, promotional-oriented copy that enhances their findability and credibility while keeping the personal flair.
o Understand the digital preferences of your lenders, colleagues, prospects and customers. If they would actually be offended if you took a cell phone call during a conversation with them, or texted during a business lunch on a subject unrelated to your meeting, you need to know. Have a conversation with a few GenX and Boomers you trust and respect about what works and what doesn’t.