Baby Sharks and the Sharknado of Entrepreneurship (Millennial Mania Chapter 8)
I’m sort of addicted to Shark Tank.
It’s my go-to show when I need to relax, I’m too tired to read or exercise, and nothing wildly educational or entertaining is on TV. I just came across this article about the under-30 contestants to watch.
What better time to blog about sharks than the weekend when Sharknado 4 is making its debut and I’m writing about millennials and how they differ from other generations.
By the way, sharks are interesting beasts. They are vital to balancing the ocean’s ecosystem and some geographies’ economies. Baby sharks are called pups and they need to learn how to fend for and feed themselves…not unlike many young entrepreneurs. One of the many definitions of Sharknado in Urban Dictionary is “something that prevents a really good event from being successful.” That can definitely be applied to the glut of young people starting businesses without having gone through some of the basic steps of successful marketing and business development.
But enough about sharks themselves…let’s get back to millennial innovators.
Young inventors and entrepreneurs are hardly a new phenomenon. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone at 18…Louis Braille created Braille (duh!) at 15…and the inventor of the popsicle was only 11 when he created the frozen fruit treat.
What struck me about the list of entrepreneurs to watch is that very few of the things they invented are completely new…they are just ways to take old stuff and modernize it to solve a timeless problem. One invention is sort of an updated version of Play Dough. Another takes night light technology and applies it to the toilet bowl. I’m not disparaging the creativity and drive of these inventors. Far from it. Some of the best inventions spring from just building a better mousetrap.
What are some of the unique qualities of millennial entrepreneurs? This article (by a millennial entrepreneur) outlines five of them. But what habits separate the successful ones from the others? Networking and goal-setting are two of the recommendations on this list. Ironically, those are not new traits for anyone starting a business.
I love this recent interview with Jeffrey Hayzlett, in which he talks about the three stages of business development: individual, accruing devout followers, and retaining skilled technicians, experts, and professionals. Millennials who get stuck on the first and second are doomed to be “starving baby sharks.” One might even argue that relying too much on digital media to “accrue devout followers” can also be a fatal error.
In conclusion…millennials (aka pups) who take money and advice from other sea creatures have the greatest chance of survival. And although Sharknados can be entertaining, you don’t really want to be caught up in one if you’re an inventor or investor.
P.S. Please subscribe to my blog for the other 9 chapters in the millennial series!
P.P.S. And just for fun…famous last words of first-time start-ups.