There’s no better way to test your mettle than owning a business during a recession, according to an American Express study. Regardless of the age of business owners, most agree that weathering this economic storm actually had a positive outcome – they are better business owners and entrepreneurs (81% Gen Y and 80% Baby Boomers).
The two generations of business owners are also more in line these days when it comes to risk taking.
But this wasn’t always the case. Before the recession 72% of Gen Y entrepreneurs (age-24-35) said they liked taking risks. That number has gone way down to 56%.
Some may have expected Baby Boomer business owners (age 48-70) to put on the brakes too. But they didn’t. In fact they held the line with 54% willing to take risks, up 1% from pre-recession 2007, according to the American Express OPEN Ages Survey data.
Experience Sustains Baby Boomers
Part of this may be due to the fact that Baby Boomers aren’t strangers to bad economic times, having weathered several in the past, so they were more prepared for this last financial storm.
They are also a little more laid back and have lower expectations – only 47% say that growing their business is their main priority compared with 66% of Gen Y entrepreneurs. Baby Boomers also drink less caffeine, work about an hour less than their younger counterparts, and fun is a top priority.
Yet while Baby Boomers may have experience in their corner, doing something they are passionate about is actually the number one reason why Gen Y entrepreneurs started their businesses in the first place. Baby Boomers typically started their businesses because they wanted to work for themselves or make money.
The Social Media Divide
It’s not surprising that Gen Y and Baby Boomers see and use social media very differently. As expected Gen Y entrepreneurs are using technology and social media as a big part of their marketing strategy, which includes blogging, building social media networks and selling their services and wares online.
Baby Boomers are using social media, but just not as much (81% vs. 61%), with four out of ten spending more time developing real world business relationships rather than virtual ones.
When asked where the enthusiasm for their business comes from they had very different answers. Gen Y pointed to passion as being the top factor, while Baby Boomer were more invested in independence.
The American Express OPEN Ages Survey interviewed 600 Gen Y and Baby Boomers who either own a small business or manage a company with less than 100 employees.