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Home Magazine February 2015 How Millennials are Shaping the Future of Business

How Millennials are Shaping the Future of Business

Millennials overwhelmingly believe that businesses need a reset in terms of paying as much attention to people and purpose as they do to products and profit.

BY Punita Sabharwal | COMMENTS ( 0 ) |

Millennials, often called Generation Y, are ruling the roost. A recent study by Deloitte says, “Millennials in India feel business image is positive. India is among the top five countries where millennials (90 per cent Indians against global average of 73 per cent) believe that businesses have positive impact on the wider society in which they operate.” Here are some key findings.

Deloitte’s fourth global Millennial Survey asked tomorrow’s leaders – what they think about leadership today, how businesses operate and impact the society, and which individual characteristics define effective leaders. The survey uncovered several noteworthy gaps between the ambitions of young professionals in emerging markets and developed markets; and between millennial men’s and women’s attitudes and aspirations toward business and leadership, and between millennials making the most and the least use of social media.

The study collected the views of more than 7,800 millennials representing 29 countries around the globe. All participants were born after 1982, have obtained a college or university degree, are employed full time and predominantly work in large (100+ employees) private-sector organisations.

Millennials overwhelmingly believe that businesses need a reset in terms of paying as much attention to people and purpose as they do to products and profit. Seventy-five per cent of millennials believe businesses are too fixated on their own agendas and not focused enough on helping to improve society.

The Purpose of A Business

Globally, 73 per cent millennials believe businesses have a positive impact on the society. They are also generally a little more optimistic about economic prospects than they were a year ago. Yet there are serious questions raised about how businesses operate – their priorities and even their ethics – and how they address challenges raised in the 2013 Millennial Survey results, including unemployment, financial inequity, resource scarcity and climate change. The dichotomy can be explained, in part, by considering millennials’ beliefs about the purpose of a business.

When asked to identify the words or phrases that match their own ideals as to what business should try to achieve, millennials highlight “job creation,” “profit generation,” and “improving society.” Millennials also look at businesses to drive innovation and enable progress. They expect businesses to be good for individuals by offering employment and to have a positive impact on wider society, but they also recognise (without judgement) that businesses exist to make money. Millennials, thus, have a “rounded” view about the purpose of a business.

They believe businesses are successfully impacting the wealth creation, but is less effective in improving the wellbeing of individuals or providing general social benefit. In comparing purpose – what businesses should do –  versus impact –  what they are doing.

Are businesses only interested in their own agendas? Do they behave ethically? Is their impact in line with the expectations of what they could and should achieve? While replying to these questions, millennials send a very strong signal to the world’s business leaders that they should do business with a purpose. They are also suggesting that the pursuit of a different and better way of operating in the 21st century begins by redefining leadership.

Millennials view leadership in a way that runs contrary to how they feel their current leadership teams operate. This signals a “leadership gap” between what millennials would prioritise if they led their organisations and where they believe their senior leadership teams are currently focused on.

Overall, millennials regard businesses’ approach towards leadership as perhaps too traditional or inward-looking. While they believe the pursuit of profit is important, that pursuit needs to be accompanied by a sense of purpose, by efforts to create innovative products or services, and above all, by the consideration of individuals as employees and members of the society. These ideas are demonstrated by the organisations and sectors millennials recognise as being leaders.

Google and Apple top the list of businesses that resonate most strongly with the millennial generation as leaders, each selected by 11 per cent of respondents. Coca-Cola (6 per cent) was third with Microsoft (5 per cent) and Samsung (4 per cent) completing the top five. In addition to these well-known global organisations, there was great appreciation of a number of “local heroes,” for example, Alibaba by 12 per cent in China.

Leadership Style

Millennials’ “socially focused” perception of leadership encompasses individuals as well as organisations. The personality traits of individuals identified as “true leaders” include:

• strategic thinking (39 per cent);
• being inspirational (37 per cent);
• strong interpersonal skills (34 per cent);
• vision (31 per cent);
• passion and enthusiasm(30 per cent); and
• decisiveness (30 per cent).

Aspirations in Emerging & Developing Markets

Interestingly, millennials in developed markets also appear to a less entrepreneurial with only 11 per cent suggesting their next career move would be to start their own businesses; this is half the proportion seen in emerging markets. (Figure 01)

Skills & Attributes

When millennials were asked to rate the skills and attributes on which businesses place the most value (and for which businesses are currently prepared to pay the highest salaries), they pointed towards the qualities that were relatively under-developed at graduation. Leadership was considered most valuable (mentioned by 39 per cent), but only 24 per cent thought this was a strong personal trait on graduation (a gap of 15 points). Meanwhile, relatively large gaps exist with respect to “sales and marketing” (-15), “general business knowledge” (-12), “entrepreneurialism” (-10), and “financial/ economic knowledge” (-9). (Figure 12)

Are Millennial Entrepreneurs Different?

Millennials are changing the world. The millennial entrepreneurial drive is defining the way we think, interact and engage as a culture. Millennials are the largest and most entrepreneurial generation on the planet. Moreover, they are twice as likely as their Boomer parents to start businesses in the coming years as 35 per cent of them already have side-hustles. There is little in terms of resources to empower millennial entrepreneurs to turn their dreams of starting their own businesses into reality.

Conclusion

They say youth is wasted on the young, but millennial entrepreneurs take the energy and channel it into building an empire. Many of them don’t have huge responsibilities – think husband, wife, mortgage and kids. It is time the ecosystem is build to give them a head start.

The Millennial Entrepreneur

Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO, Zomato, a millennial, started his own business at the age of 24. He talks about his journey and various aspects of millennial entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to start your own business?

When I was working at Bain & Company (a management consulting firm), I noticed that a lot of my colleagues used to queue up to view the stack of menu cards in the cafeteria during lunch hour. There was a rule that we couldn’t take menus to our desks since people generally ended up losing these menus and causing an inconvenience to everyone.

To save the trouble for everyone, I just scanned these menu cards and put them online for everyone to use. This small intranet website started getting a substantial number of hits from people within Bain. That was when, I realised that a business could be built based on scanned menus. That is how the very early form of Zomato was born. My then colleague Pankaj Chaddah came on board and soon we went live with menus for 1,200 restaurants in Delhi/NCR in July 2008, which expanded to 2,000 restaurants by the end of the year.

Right now, of 300,000 restaurants on Zomato, you will find fresh scanned menus for over 95 per cent of those restaurants. But now we are also solving the problem of communication – we want users to have access to all kinds of special information around them, so they can make easier and better decisions about where they should go to eat. We also want to get into the convenience factor of things like online ordering, table bookings and cashless payments.

Do you think millennials will rule the world?

Yes, I strongly believe that every generation follows its predecessors’ footprints. We have had some great examples of entrepreneurs before us and our generation’s appetite for risk, growth, disruption and innovation is much higher than the generations before us.

What is the average age of employees at Zomato?

24

Are millennials better equipped to shape the future of business?

They have access to a lot more information and can make better decisions, thanks to the exposure they have. This is the first generation to have had access to the Internet during their formative years. Millennials also stand out because we are the most diverse and educated generation to date. Over 60 per cent of us consider ourselves entrepreneurs or are entrepreneurial. We are building incredible businesses that are literally changing the life as we know it because we have four critical ingredients – hunger, intelligence, access [to knowledge/information] and [a constant need for] action.

How are millennial entrepreneurs different from their previous generation?

I’d say, we are almost radically different from the previous generation. We are less conservative and a lot more open to pushing ourselves to come out of our comfort zone.

Meet the Millennial

Kunal Bahl, Co-founder & CEO, Snapdeal, brought people on board who were passionate, entrepreneurial and had fire in the belly but most importantly those who could complement him in the areas where he was not good at. In a quick chat, he unveils how the changing ecosystem peps up with smart ambitious people who want to start a company for success.

How was Snapdeal formed?

I started business at the age of 23. I first founded a detergent business when I was at college. Then I went to the US and took up a job at Microsoft. When I came back to India, I felt the urge to go back to entrepreneurship. So that’s how I started the company, and for me, it was a very natural thing. I don’t think I put in a lot of thinking into it. Honestly, I never stopped thinking about building a company.

Do you think today’s generation is smarter than previous generation?

I’m too young to comment whether today’s generation is smarter than the previous one. I have a lot of respect for them. They built their companies in not-so-favourable market conditions, in an economy, which didn’t have enough consumer spending, there was not much technology available, the government was very protectionist in nature, thus there were lots of challenges. I’m pretty sure the entrepreneurs, who built large companies at that time, if they were to be reborn, they would build amazing companies in today’s time.

What is the average age of people working at Snapdeal?

24

How do you work with your team?

You have to be open, transparent and honest with your team. You have to listen to them, agree with them or agree to disagree with them. And most importantly, give them a feel that it’s their company, and for that, you have to give them responsibility.

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