From Emily Ferber of Glossier cosmetics and Whitney Wolfe of the Bumble dating app to Jessica Alba of The Honest Company and designer Rebecca Minkoff, millennial women entrepreneurs are making waves.
But what about female millennials who aren’t so high profile? How are they changing the world of entrepreneurship? Here are five myths about millennial women entrepreneurs and the realities behind them.
1. Myth: Millennial women would rather climb the corporate ladder than start their own businesses.
Reality: Currently, millennial women are less likely than millennial men to be entrepreneurs, according to the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). However, they’re extremely interested in becoming entrepreneurs. A whopping 83 percent of millennial women with full-time jobs want to start their own businesses, according to a survey by Buzz MG for Create & Cultivate. In fact, 55 percent of employed millennial women already have a “side hustle” in addition to their jobs.
2. Myth: Millennials aren’t good with money. A popular image of the stereotypical millennial is someone who borrowed $200,000 for an underwater basket-weaving degree but still drops $12 a pop on avocado toast at brunch. Even millennials buy into these stereotypes. Seventy-three percent of millennials surveyed in Bank of America's Winter 2018 Better Money Report say their generation overspends and 64 percent think their generation is bad at managing money.
Reality: Millennials are actually doing pretty well financially. Nearly two-thirds say they regularly save money and 67 percent of those who set savings goals for themselves usually or always meet those goals. Almost half (47 percent) have $15,000 or more in savings while 16 percent have $100,000 or more stashed away.
3. Myth: Millennial women feel torn between motherhood and entrepreneurship.
Reality: Millennial women prioritize family, self, career and friends, in that order, according to Create & Cultivate. But they don’t think children vs. career is an “either/or” decision. In fact, the NWBC reports that millennial women entrepreneurs are more likely to be married and more likely to have children than their non-entrepreneur counterparts. Being married may be the financial cushion enabling them to start businesses without risking the family’s income. With 84 percent of both male and female millennials seeking work-life balance, many women see entrepreneurship as the way to reach that goal.
4. Myth: Millennial women are erasing the gender pay gap.
Reality: While pay parity is a huge concern for millennial women, there’s still a long way to go—and starting a business won't necessarily close the gap. Here are some shocking stats from the NWBC:
- Millennial women entrepreneurs earn over 25 percent less than their counterparts in the labor force. In contrast, millennial men entrepreneurs earn more than their counterparts in the labor force.
- Even when taking into account the number of hours worked, millennial women entrepreneurs make less than, on average, their male counterparts. This discrepancy exists regardless of industry.
5. Myth: Millennial women’s student loan debt prevents them from starting businesses.
Reality: More than six in 10 millennial women Create & Cultivate surveyed say they'd need $10,000 to $25,000 to start or grow their businesses, but 75 percent say they can’t access that much capital. It’s traditionally been harder for women to access financing than men. But is millennials’ focus on financial security part of the problem? The millennial women C&C polled value financial stability more than their side projects (and even more than their health). Fifty-six percent save any extra money they have, and 31 percent invest it.
Millennials’ financial fears aren’t unfounded. Fully one-fourth of millennials Bank of America polled have been laid off, and that’s not counting the number who saw siblings and parents lose jobs during the Great Recession. But is fear of financial instability keeping millennial women from taking the entrepreneurial leap?
Sometimes, the biggest challenges aren’t outside forces, but our own beliefs. I have faith that one day, women entrepreneurs will overcome the challenges that still hold them back. But we can’t wait for it, we must proactively make it happen.
Check out the Small Business Story Collection: The Unique Values Women Bring to Small Business Ownership.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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