Millennials don't want to work for the man
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Jan 20, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Millennials don't want to work for the man

Companies like A&W are trying to entice the next generation of entrepreneurs to launch a franchise


Priya Dhillon has two children under the age of 4 and a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Guelph.

But the 33-year-old has her sights set on something a lot less scientific: to own an A&W franchise.

It’s actually not that off-the-wall for Dhillon, whose parents run 16 A&W locations in the Greater Toronto Area, which she now manages as vice-president of training and development.

And the concept is closer to becoming a reality for her now that the Canadian burger giant is actively recruiting and helping Millennials scoop up new franchises planned for urban locations, starting with Toronto.

“When you’re starting out it’s not easy to get the funding to open a restaurant, so this is an exciting opportunity,” Dhillon says.

The Mississauga mom represents a predominant entrepreneurial trend among Canadian Millennials, many of whom say they would rather be self-employed than have a traditional workplace with a boss hovering over them.

Based on a recent poll of 5,800 participants in ten countries, media agency network ZenithOptimedia found global consumers aged 18 to 34 have a “fundamentally different approach” to achieving happiness compared to previous generations.

While baby boomers in their youth were defined as idealists with a free spirit vibe, Millennials seek to gain much more control over their lives to obtain happiness, it found.

“Most Millennials told us they valued the freedom and flexibility of new ways of working. Inspired by their peers, including tech entrepreneurs like (Facebook founder) Mark Zuckerberg, many see running a business they are passionate about as their ultimate goal,” says the “Pursuit of Happiness” study.

Another survey from Intuit shows that one quarter of Millennial-age entrepreneurs have never held a full-time job prior to starting out on their own -- nearly three times more than entrepreneurs ages 35-54.

“They want to feel empowerment,” explains Rob King, director of small business at e-commerce software firm Intuit Canada. “They don’t want to work the 9-to-5 and they’re not as risk averse as others. Plus technology is moving really fast, so they can do a startup out of their basement,” he notes.

Seventy-one percent run their businesses from a smart phone while one-quarter do so from a tablet, says the survey on the new generation of entrepreneurs.

It also shows that while most Canadian small business owners launched their businesses within six months of coming up with the idea, 33 per cent of Millennial entrepreneurs were willing to take the plunge sooner by launching within one month as opposed to 27 per cent of those ages 35 and over.

However King pointed out some red flags to jumping into a startup too quickly. The study found 69 per cent of millennial entrepreneurs did not have a business plan.

“Starting a business is a big leap of faith, so there has to be more planning in place,” he advises.

A&W is heading in that direction with its new, low equity franchise model for Millennials aimed at helping them prepare by providing professional development and extensive training before they take the helm. Also, the upfront investment of between $125,000 and $150,000 is about half the standard price for a new urban location.

After completing the core training, franchisees then enter a structured work experience program that pays them a salary while they wait for their new urban concept restaurant to be built. The first five will be built in Toronto this year. A&W is looking for 25 young entrepreneurs by 2020 to be part of its new wave of fast food restaurants.

“Typically our franchisees have a strong business background and financial resources to invest,” says A&W president Susan Senecal.

“We believe that engaging more Millennials in our franchise operations will bring positive change to Canada’s food industry. We have seen a lot of success in our franchisees under 35 years old and find they bring energy, passion and new thinking every day,” she adds.

Senecal notes it’s a great fit also because that demographic is a big part of its market and was key in the recent evolution of the brand, which was one of the first out of the gate in fast food to shift to antibiotic-free chicken and beef raised without the use of hormones and steroids.

“Millennials are bringing positive change to Canada’s food industry, so we want to help them to hit the ground running” with their own business, she adds.

Of course the entrepreneurial trend goes far beyond fast food.

Nic Martin, 30, has run a Reebok Crossfit franchise in Liberty Village for the last five years and says being his own boss is the only way he can imagine making a living.

“I had a corporate position in the fitness industry before this, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t as fulfilling,” he says.

“There is a way to do things besides sitting 9-to-5 at a desk, or spending 30 years in the same job. And if you go into business for yourself, you get to reap the rewards of all your hard work,” explains Martin, who works about 60 hours and six days a week.

Meanwhile Hamilton-born Brandon Vlaar, 23, and Cato Pastoll, 22, started working on their new startup venture Lending Loop after the two met as students at the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario.

“We wanted to leverage our passion for technology to change the traditional ways of doing business,” says Vlaar, a self-taught software developer who is started his own skateboard deck business in his neighbourhood at the age of 10.

Their new ‘fintech’ startup is an online marketplace for Canadians to lend money to growing local businesses, removing costly intermediaries to help make the cost of borrowing lower for businesses and increase returns for investors.

Toronto Star

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