3 Ways to Ease Into Entrepreneurship

Millennials invented Facebook, Tumblr, and Snapchat; as a generation, we're no strangers to the startup world. But we aren't exactly breaking down doors to start our own businesses either. A 2016 report shows that millennials are lagging behind both Gen X and Baby Boomers in entrepreneurship. Just 30 percent of teens today like the idea, with most concerned that it's too risky and not lucrative enough.

That said, millennials are also sick of our bosses, mistrustful of hierarchy, and hungry for meaningful work. We came of age during the Great Recession, and half our jokes are about late capitalism. It's okay to be wary of striking out on your own, given how much money and chutzpah it takes to start your own business. But keep these three things in mind, if you keep coming back to the idea.

You don’t have to be Uber.

There's this notion that a startup has to change the world and upend the dominant paradigm. But really, the reason anyone starts a business is to fulfill a need in a specific niche. If your idea or passion is about making life a little easier for somebody, even if it's not dramatic, even if it's small, it's absolutely enough.

You don’t have to be Netflix.

The venture capital business model demands massive returns for initial investments, pressuring startups to become huge money machines as quickly as possible. But growth for growth's sake isn't always best for the business, or your customers. If your startup focuses on a local issue, rather than a global one, that's fine. Only scale as much as you need or want (and make sure your investors are on board with that from the start).

You don’t have to be Bodega.

Not every startup idea is necessary or helpful. In September, the founders of Bodega had to apologize for their widely panned proposal to, in effect, gentrify vending machines and put actual corner-store owners, who are often immigrants and people of color, out of business. Your business doesn't have to disrupt for the sake of disruption — you just have to do something better than what's available now.

Entrepreneurship can mean anything you want it to mean, whether it's a new product, an innovative kind of service, or a way to help address a social or environmental problem. Understanding the risks involved makes for a strong foundation, but don't let some idea of what startups "should" be stop you from taking that first step.