Gen Y is more positive than other generations

Generation Y entrepreneurs are more positive, are more likely to hire and most likely to implement employee-friendly practices to battle the recession than Gen X or Baby Boomer small business owners.


Everyone, regardless of generation membership, has felt the strain of the recession, but Generation Y entrepreneurs are remaining more positive than business owners overall.


More than three-quarters (80 percent) of Gen Y entrepreneurs have significantly more positive outlook on business prospects versus Generation X and business owners overall (55 percent) and Baby Boomers (52 percent), according to the Fall 2009 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor.

In a recent American Express Small Business OPEN ForumMarcy Shinder, VP of Brand Strategy and Marketing for American Express OPEN, cited this statistic and told the story of Elliot Bisnow, the 24 year-old founder of Bisnow, an e-newsletter company expected to earn $2 to 3 million in revenue this year, to illustrate that the optimism does not necessarily come from ignorance or lack of experience.

Sure, in some cases Gen Y optimism can be attributed to naivety, but certainly not all.

The semi-annual survey of American small business owners by American Express explored some of the specific ways which Generation Y’s optimism (and thereby business practices) outshines that of their Boomer and Gen X business owner counterparts:


  • Gen Y is most likely to hire (36%, vs. 25% of Gen X and 20% of Boomers)
  • Gen Y is most likely to have capital investment plans (58%, vs. 41% of Gen X and 39% of Boomers)
  • Gen Y is most willing to take a financial risk (67%, vs. 52% of Gen X and 47% of Boomers)
  • Gen Y is least likely to have cash flow issues (53% versus 59% for Gen X and 64% of Baby Boomers)
  • Gen Y is least stressed out by the economy (57% versus 72% of Gen X’ers and 71% of Boomers)
  • Gen Y is most likely to implement employee-friendly policies to battle the recession. Gen Y will allow employees to maintain a flexible schedule (44%), Baby Boomers will institute a hiring freeze (41%) and Gen X entrepreneurs will institute a salary freeze (39%)


While it is easy to argue that Gen Y businesses are likely smaller and newer than Gen X or Boomer businesses, or a typical Gen Y entrepreneur does not have as much at risk (i.e. family to support, mortgage to pay, etc.), there is definitely some validity in the numbers. 

Gen Y’s Boomer parents have often been criticized for being too involved and too affirming to their children, thus conditioning Millennials into thinking they are invincible and entitled to success. Maybe it’s time to start applauding them for raising a generation ready to grab the world by its tail and make things happen. 

The overall percentage of entrepreneurial optimism went up 10 percent from the Spring 2009 American Experess OPEN Small Business Monitor.

Perhaps this number will continue to climb, not just as the economy continues to recover, but as more Millennials, like Bisnow, pursue the entrepreneurial path.