The other day I moderated a panel on innovation in real estate for an audience of around 100 Georgetown University masters in real estate students. The audience had an average age of around 30 years old, so they could all be considered Generation Y/Millennials from a demographic perspective.
I posed the following question to the audience: Who aspires to be the head of a highly-profitable, 5,000-person company?
Nobody raised their hand.
Then I asked: Who aspires to be the head of an insanely-profitable, 20-person company?
Almost everybody raised their hand.
While this was not a representative sample, and typically real estate development organizations in particular are lean operations, I still think we have a serious problem here, which is that it seems that the notion of entrepreneurial success and fulfillment is shifting dramatically from what it used to be: founding or rising to run a company that is a massive job creator/employer.
Millennials are known to dislike authority, bureaucracy, layers of management and top-down control. So it makes sense that they would not aspire to lord over a massive organization that embodied those very things. But this means that when they are thinking about starting their own businesses, they are likely thinking about leveraging technology to the maximum and keeping the employee headcount as low as possible.
This is a major problem for the health of our job market, first and foremost, because most of these 100 students will not end up being entrepreneurs (and thus not directly be job creators). For the small percentage that end up succeeding in starting a business that becomes an employer, they are likely targeting a smaller operation that is aligned with their personal values, and with the assistance of software, is highly compact.
Does anyone else worry about how this could impact job creation? It was pointed out to me that unfortunately there are two major variables at play given the way I asked the question (which I cannot go back and change), the level of profitability and the company size, which could conflate one another. Thoughts? Sound off below.