As a young business owner, I get the opportunity to talk and meet with business professionals that are much more seasoned than myself. In addition to hearing their goals for their company, I hear their pains and frustrations with young team members and I empathize with them. To help with illustrating some of the struggle themes – I’ve written a letter from a business owner’s perspective to millennials. I’m a millennial myself so this applies to me as well. The goal of this letter is to help with perspective and seeing yourself through the eyes of someone else.
Dear 20-34 year old,
Your generation has a reputation of being an entitled, naive, disrespectful, and self-indulged bunch especially when it comes to the workplace. It’s exceedingly harder and harder to find good hardworking individuals to hire and I’m a bit nervous to hire anyone under the age of 34 for the fear you may suffer from one of the below ailments. I would like to give you a bit of insight through the eyes of an established business owner so it may assist you in earning respect, succeeding at your job, and overall becoming a better person to work with.
Here’s why your bunch has earned an overall negative rating in my opinion:
You’re Entitled: Entitlement can be defined as thinking you’re owed something when you haven’t earned it. Some examples of entitlement:
- You believe you’re owed a job. We live in a country where we are free to be and do whatever we want. When you walk into a place of business asking for a job or interviewing for a job – pause for a moment and know that someone had to start the place of business you’re in. Small business is not made successful by waving a magic wand – it’s made from sweat, tireless hours of work, sleepless nights, grit – it’s made of reality. So please, show some respect when you enter – brush your hair, wear a nice outfit and be humble. You may have a chance at getting a second interview.
- You should be paid a lot of money because you’re worth it or you need it. What defines your worth in the business place? How can I see my Return on Investment with YOU being the investment? I can’t lose money on you or why did I hire you in the first place? What experience do you have – what are you willing to do for the business? Remember, everyone starts somewhere and if you’re not willing prove your value, then don’t expect me to value you.
TIP: Research companies you want to work for. Let the business owner know why. If you are currently employed – make sure you look nice daily, you have an attitude of gratitude and that you’re actively growing.
You aren’t self-sufficient
What I’m about to say may come across harsh but I want to make sure I do my best to be a wake up call if this applies to you. It may not be your fault that you’re naive and green behind the ears. Your parents may be a part of the reason why you can’t function as an adult. You’ve been coddled, nurtured, paid for until you graduate college – you’ve never heard the words NO. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have involved parents! I’m saying there’s a problem when you depend on your mother to do your laundry, pay all of your bills and take care of your basic necessities in life. At the age of 12 I was doing my paper route and then pushing the lawn mower to make money to buy an ice-cream at the pool. Take ownership. Pull your own weight. If you don’t – other people will begin to notice and not want to work with you. Work hard now, pay off debts, save money and then go achieve your dream of living on a lettuce farm in Hawaii.
TIP: Take personal responsibility for your life – identify what you want. Set realistic goals and go achieve it! Tell your parents you love them but you need space. Remember, work is called work for a reason – it’s not always sunshine and roses.
You Lack Respect
You don’t have respect for “real work.” This typically comes from the pony express generation where real work is defined as having calluses on your hands. They worked trade jobs, farmed and know the taste of sweat from their brow from plowing fields. You don’t have to clean stalls to earn their respect, you just need to respect them and know they carry wisdom far beyond your years on earth. Don’t roll your eyes or think they are out touch – you will be in their shoes one day.
Young people don’t value intellect – this statement comes from my generation, the baby boomer generation where high value is placed on degrees. But you don’t need to have your Masters or Doctorate to earn my respect – you need to respect me and know that I’ve worked hard to be where I am. It’s not terrible that I’ve worked the same place for 25 years; it’s actually admirable and something your generation struggles with – commitment. Find a company that you agree with their values and go work for them for at least 3 years. Learn from your seniors – practice being an apprentice.
Tip: Identify women and men that are doing something you want to do. Sit down with them and ask them about their life. You will be surprised by the stories you hear and the lessons you learn.
You’re addicted to distraction
Stealing is defined as taking something that is not yours. Whenever I’m paying you to do something and instead you decide to check your phone – that’s stealing. Let me be clear – if you’re checking how many you likes you got on Instagram, posting a snap to your story or texting your friends about plans later that evening -and you aren’t doing it on your lunch break – you’re letting it interrupt what I’ve outlined for you to do. Time=Money and if you’re not fulfilling your obligations within the time allotted, you should be paying me back. Think of it this way – if I commit to paying you 40 hours – would you be upset if I deducted hours that you actually didn’t work? If the average person opens their phone 120 times a day, that means they’re checking it 7.5 times per hour which comes out to 60x per work day – what if you were charged a dollar every time you checked your phone? $60 x 20 workdays comes out to $1200 per month – it’s just an illustration but hopefully drives home the point. Another scientific fact – after being interrupted it takes you 7 minutes to get your mind focused and back on task. Are you living in a constant state of distraction?
Tip – put your phone in a drawer – only check during lunchtime.
Of course only a few rotten apples can spoil the whole bunch and that’s what I believe has happened to your generation’s reputation. That being said, I would love for you to prove us wrong. Show us that your reputation is ill fitting.
Seasoned Business Owner of age 45+
I hope if anything, the above notes serve as a good refresher and reminder to be the best person you can be at work and life.
As a millennial myself, I make sure that I keep myself in alignment – I too, at times, struggle with the above.
I know that behind every business there is a loud heartbeat and it’s alive and I respect it. We have the honor and opportunity to work for small business and we do not take it for granted.
I believe we live in the best time of our nation’s history. I deeply love & respect those who have sacrificed and given so much for us to have the freedom to thrive and succeed. I’m not going to waste a day being complacent.
I believe that you have to work hard and persist. Success doesn’t happen overnight and I’m very aware of how dangerous the keeping up with the Joneses mentality is.
I understand that our phones are a great tool yet a HUGE source of distraction. I know that I’m a much happier person when I don’t check FB (especially right now with the political climate) and focus on being present. For work – I’m not checking my personal platforms – my time is owed to ByFarr.
The next blog post is a letter to Business Owners from a Millennial which should be interesting – stay tuned.