generational differences

generationsI have noticed an interesting trend over the past few years. It seems to me that more and more people are being bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Just like my grandparent’s generation, the younger generation today seems to be more and more focused on starting their own entrepreneurial enterprise instead of working for someone else. Interestingly, my parent’s generation seems to be more likely to have worked for someone else.

For example, when my grandfather was growing up he did not have a college degree so his options were to either work in a factory or start his own business. He chose to start his own business by investing in a mobile home park and worked there until he passed away a couple years ago. He had other options I am sure but he felt that owning his own business would provide for his family as well as give him an avenue to use the gifts God gave him. Just last week I had lunch with a gentleman that knew my grandfather and mentioned what an amazing business owner he was. That mobile home park provided for his family while they were young and it is still providing for his 4 daughters today, long after both he and my grandmother passed away.

Now let’s talk about my father and his generation. My father went to college and met my mother. After graduation, he started working at Iowa Power and Light which eventually became MidAmerican Energy. My father worked there every year of his life until he retired last year – a total of 44 years! He was very loyal to the company and they provided him with the means to support his family for his lifetime. But not beyond.

I know of many people like my father who have worked at the same company for years. I couldn’t imagine doing that. I don’t think a lot of people today could imagine doing that. Companies have changed the way they care for their employees. Very few companies offer pensions to incentivize their employees. They now offer 401k’s and other qualified benefits to “incent” their workers. Today, companies are all about the bottom line and trying to figure out just how many things they can cut to make themselves more profitable.

My grandfather and father worked very hard for their companies. The only difference was one was working for a company that he owned while the other was working for a company that someone else owned. Nothing is wrong with either but which one would you rather do? Most people would rather work for a company they owned so they can support their families and just maybe provide for them long after they’ve gone.

Starting and owning your own business is one of the ways to produce residual income over the course of your life but do you have enough bandwidth to handle the risk associated with owning your own company? This question and many more need to be thought through before jumping into owning your own business.

My theory might be wrong, but it seems that people are starting to get wiser when it comes to where they want to spend the most precious resource they have – their time. We all are going to work hard for most of our lives and we all want to enjoy what we do which for me is owning my own business. No matter what, I want to be uncommon and put my time to the best use and that means focusing on building my residual income be it through my own business or some other avenue of residual income.