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Millennial Women & Entrepreneurship

Millennial Women: The Future of Entrepreneurship in America 

Premier Quantitative Consulting for the National Women’s Business Council

First published June 2017

The United States Census Bureau defines millennials as individuals that were born between 1982 and 2000 and according to 2015 Census Bureau data, there are 83.1 million millennials in the United States. 1 By the year 2025, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the American workforce,2 and some will become entrepreneurs. However, a review of existing literature, surveys, and articles offers two contrasting opinions of the future of millennial entrepreneurship. The first viewpoint presents millennials as entrepreneurial champions, innovating like no prior generation has. Followers or advocates of this opinion describe millennials as digital natives with high interest and high involvement in entrepreneurship. In contrast to the optimistic opinion, others hypothesize a more pessimistic outcome where millennials could be the “lost generation” of entrepreneurs, burdened by debt and an uncertain economy. The data and anecdotal accounts in the media and current research present a dichotomy between the desire to start businesses and taking the steps necessary to make that desire a reality.

This report explores entrepreneurship among millennial women via multiple avenues. First, the report covers existing research on millennial entrepreneurship, including how the media portrays these entrepreneurs. This section highlights millennial women and identifies knowledge gaps, requiring additional study. Second, the report presents a data-based profile of millennial women entrepreneurs in America utilizing data from the American Community Survey and the Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons. Finally, the conclusion posits further research questions with an eye towards developing action-oriented policy initiatives to assist millennial women in starting and growing businesses.

The goal of this introductory research is to provide insights on both viewpoints surrounding millennial entrepreneurship to set the stage for qualitative analyses of entrepreneurship among millennial women. First, it is important to note that given the newness of the millennial generation to entrepreneurship, there is limited academic literature on the subject. Instead, the two competing viewpoints discussed in the opening paragraph are drawn primarily from a review of private surveys and anecdotal articles. Second, there is limited existing information available that specifically discusses the unique challenges, motivations, and experiences of millennial women entrepreneurs.

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