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August 2013
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TD Magazine

Being Your Own Boss

Aided by technology, entrepreneurship is on the rise among Millennials.

Intelligence1
A recent survey by Millennial Branding and oDesk reveals the prevalence of freelancers among the Millennial workforce. The survey, which polled independent professionals between the ages of 19 and 30, found that 72 percent of freelancers want to quit their regular jobs, and 61 percent intend to do so in the next two years.

The survey also gives shape to a new definition of entrepreneurship: 90 percent of the professionals surveyed indicate that entrepreneurship is a mindset rather than a title for someone who owns a business. Words now used to describe an entrepreneur are "self-starter," "risk-taker," "visionary," and someone who "spots opportunity."

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Freelancing is especially appealing to Millennials, who are known for wanting freedom and flexibility in their careers, as well as the ability to rapidly achieve career success. "Millennials don't want to wait five years for a promotion," says Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding. "They believe in a flat hierarchy instead of a vertical one. The idea of climbing a corporate ladder is simply not appealing to this demographic."

Even Millennials working for traditional organizations are testing the conventional boundaries of the 9-to-5 job. "Millennials don't see much of a separation between their professional and personal lives. This is due to how technology has enabled them to work from anywhere at any time," explains Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk. "When they're at work they want to do personal things like talk to friends and when they get home, they answer business email."

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Tech innovation is rapidly democratizing entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial tools include Skype and Google Hangouts (which enable instant communication), DropBox (cloud-based storage space), oDesk (an online forum for advertising and bidding for freelance jobs), and KickStarter (an online platform for crowdfunding).

"While DropBox and Skype are already fairly common, it's the more savvy professionals who are starting to use on-demand funding and talent," says Swart.

About the Author

Stephanie Castellano is a former writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD). She is now a freelance writer.

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