A drive to be independent and autonomous is pushing many young people toward small businesses. Generation Y-ers, or people from the ages of 18 to 34, are joining the workforce in droves, and many are not looking for careers in corporate America but rather in small business. A new survey, done by PayScale and Millienial Branding, shows that Generation Y workers are more likely to work at small companies or study to be entrepreneurs themselves. It seems the corporate lifestyle may not be desired by the Generation Y workers now entering the workforce.

“In our parents’ generation, it was not as easy to start a business as it is now, with just a laptop and an Internet connection,” states Jenny Blake. Blake was once a manager of career-development programs for Google until she left the company in 2011. She admits that working for Google, “in many ways, [was her] dream job,” but she quit the tech company to become a career coach and author in New York.

Her experience, and that of many others, poses a challenge to large corporations seeking to hire young employees. The chief executive of ChangeLabs in Denver, Peter Sheahan, believes it is the attitude, “I can do anything,” that puts value on individualism and makes the Gen Y workforce unique. Dan Schawbel of Millienial Branding agrees: “It’s definitely an entrepreneurial generation, compared to others.” Research done by PayScale and Millienial found that Gen Y workers are almost twice as likely to major in entrepreneurial studies compared to the average U.S. worker.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics did its own study in 2011. The national average of individuals working for companies with fewer than 100 people is 37 percent, but among the Generation Y-ers that number jumps to 47 percent. The Pew Research Center also issued a report in February which found that many young workers value jobs and careers that not only offer good pay but benefit society as well. Schawbel says, “Not all small companies offer benefits, but they [Generation Y workers] are willing to make these sacrifices. They can get more involved in the affairs of the business—and there’s a chance it could explode, so there could be much more benefit.”

His statements are also supported by research which suggests that Gen Y workers are career-focused and highly ambitious. The Y Generation benefits from small businesses that can offer more work experience and quick promotions. As Jenny Blake puts it, “… There’s unlimited potential. How much I earn is directly proportional to my ideas and my skills.”


Wong, Venessa. “Independent Young Workers Favor Small Businesses.” Gen Y, Lifestyle. Bloomberg Businessweek. 8/21/2012. (8/23/2012).