Millennials Entrepreneur (Image source pixabay/Geralt under CC0

Kriti Sharma, Global Director, Mobile Product Management (Source LinkedIn)
Kriti Sharma, Global Director, Mobile Product Management

Sage has launched a global report entitled Walk With Me. The research carried out in conjunction with Morar and involved 7,400 respondents in 16 different countries. The research focused on millennials that see themselves as entrepreneurs. Sage ensured that all respondents were filtered to those who ran their own businesses or had already done so. This is an impressive study in terms of its sample size and focus. There has been a lot of research carried out into millennials in the workplace but little around about entrepreneurs. In 2010 Myers and Sadaghiani published a paper in the Journal of Business Psychology that rounded up the research that had been carried out to date.

In the past there have been many generalizations about the millennials. Not helped by there not being any strict definition for Generation Y, or the millennials that is consistent across all research. Sage decided that people born between 1983 and 2000 were their target audience. Arguably the latter end of that scale are digital natives or Generation Z. However these are the people currently aged between 16 and 33 who are not only in the work place but are also the current generation of entrepreneurs. The research was sponsored within Sage by Kriti Sharma, Director, Product Management, Mobile, Sage,whom Enterprise Times recently interviewed around the Sage bot and her work on big data at Sage.

No longer work until you drop.

The findings revealed that millennials are not the same as the baby boomers. Who have a reputation of working until they drop. That does not mean however that they are lazy. The findings show that they probably work different hours to other generations, and almost certainly want to work more flexibly. It is this flexibility that is misunderstood. There appears to be little separation for some between life and work, and yet this generation is clear on the distinction. 66% of those surveyed said that life comes before work. The highest percentage for that view exists in Spain (79%), Portugal (75%) and France (65%) .

There is more to life than work! Seems to be the mantra as well. With many respondents across the globe looking to the long term and wanting to reduce the number of hours they work. It would have been interesting to see whether the survey actually asked people how many hours they actually worked. The suspicion is that millennials are always connected and “always” at work. Previous generations would completely disassociate themselves from work, leaving entire weekends free and ignore calls. Interestingly in Britain 42% said that they would prioritise work over socialising, this was the highest of any country.

In some countries work and socialising are deeply integrated. The USA (73%), Spain (71%), and Brazil (74%) socialise with their team at least once a week. The outlier for this was Nigeria where less than 40% appeared to do so.

Technology is beginning to rule

Technology is embraced by the millennials. It is perhaps surprising that only 62% believe that they can keep up with technology. Again this is where the detail of the report would have shed additional light. Does this mean that 38% believe that they are already falling behind. That percentage is likely to increase as time passes. Perhaps in a few decades, it might be the millennials who are the technology sceptics. Certainly working day methods have changed. 41% see technology as replacing the desk and they will be working solely from a mobile in the future.

Kriti Sharma, Director, Product Management, Mobile, Sage, summed this up neatly. She explains: “As a millennial entrepreneur myself I know first-hand that this business group are shaking things up. We’re rejecting established patterns of working and making technology work for us. We see business through a new lens. We’re willing to work hard, but want flexibility in how, when and with whom we do business.”

Are all millennials the same?

No! What is clear from the research is that there are both cultural differences between nations, and personality difference between people. Sage believe that they have found five different personality types that they can loosely fit millennial entrepreneurs into. These appear to be similar to some of the Myers Briggs definitions rather than Belbin team roles. This is expected though, as Belbin includes the whole team rather than just the leaders that entrepreneurs represent.

Five personality types

The five traits that Sage identified are:

  • The Principled Planners – extremely methodical in their approach to work, they enjoy carefully planning for success. With an ambitious streak, they never take anything at face value and always ask a lot of questions.
  • The Driven Techies – love their work and can’t bear the thought of sitting around twiddling their thumbs, they trust in the power and efficiency of innovative technology to keep them one step ahead of the competition. They have a strong belief in its ability to accurately target their existing and future customers.
  • The Instinctive Explorers – cavalier, they love the unknown, as well as exploring uncharted territory. They trust their gut instincts and stick to their guns. A modern image is extremely important to them, as is leaving a legacy behind to be remembered by.
  • The Real Worlders – resourceful, but likely to say they rely on technology in order to succeed. When it comes to their approach to work and making decisions, they tend to alternate between going on gut instinct and taking a more methodical approach.
  • The Thrill-Seekers – easily bored and always on the lookout for the next challenge, they couldn’t care less about appearances. They work best around others and believe that making a social impact is overrated.

While this is one way that Sage categorised the data, they have also found some other general trends amongst the millennials.

Giving back

While many started their own business to be masters of their own destiny, they are not selfish. In fact this generation is more interested in social engagement than previous ones. For example, both in South Africa and Brazil, doing social good was important to more than 80% of respondents. In other locations it was about the happiness of employees.


This report is an worthwhile read. Given the broad nature of the research it will be interesting to see whether Sage reveal some more insights over the next few weeks leading up to Sage Summit. Certainly, depending upon the questions asked, there is a treasure trove of information within the report that HR and business leaders would do well to scan. Understanding the motivations, even generically,  can ensure that companies create the right level of empathy with both employees and customers.



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