92% of Gen Z founders start their business as a side hustle, new study shows
Gen Z founders are passionate, driven, and ambitious, and compared to past generations, are motivated to start their own businesses for very different reasons. It’s therefore not surprising that the overwhelming majority (92%) of startups founded by Gen Z (18-24 year old) entrepreneurs start off as a side hustle, according to new research commissioned by Connectd, the leading platform for managing and growing relationships between startups, investors, and advisors.
The Connectd research, conducted by independent pollsters Censuswide, explored the motivations and actions of 50 Gen Z founders and compared them with 50 entrepreneurs over the age of 25.
Their research also reveals fascinating insights into Gen Z’s passion for the environment and sustainable business; their motivations for starting and growing a business; and their approach to building businesses, including a desire to be open and transparent about their business performance with their online networks and wider stakeholders. Investors and advisors, in particular, must grasp what motivates these developing company leaders.
With such a high proportion of Gen Z founders starting their business while still in other employment, compared to just 65% of founders over 25, Connectd founder and CEO Roei Samuel believes this is reflective of the external pressures on young entrepreneurs today. “Gen Z entrepreneurs have grown up attuned to the gig economy and flexible working, which means they thrive on having more autonomy in employed roles than ever before. They’re also increasingly bringing this agile mindset to their personal entrepreneurial journeys,” Samuel said.
The Connectd research also looked into the key motivations for why Gen Z entrepreneurs start their business ventures, finding a significant shift towards a desire to make a positive impact on the environment and society. Over two-thirds (68%) of Gen Z founders stated that they started their company to make a difference in this respect, compared to 54% of over 25s. Unanimously, 100% of Gen Z founders surveyed said it was important to them that their business had a low impact on the environment.
“Our research shows how Gen Z entrepreneurs are uncompromising with their ESG credentials, as they look to underpin successful business growth with strong ethics. This should act as a timely reminder for investors and advisors who are looking to support Gen Z entrepreneurs and share in their future successes. This is the generation where the next tech unicorns will come from and the wider startup ecosystem can benefit from understanding their mindset and approach to business,” added Samuel.
Another key trend explored in the research is Gen Z’s motivations to ‘build in public’, publishing key information about their business successes and failures in an open and transparent manner online. Public transparency and honesty when growing their business were highly important to 86% of Gen Z founders in Connectd’s research, compared to 63% of founders over 25.
“Building your business in public is a relatively new thing, intrinsically linked to the rise of social media. But it’s increasingly being used to open up opportunities for Gen Z founders to take investors and customers on the journey with their business growth. When done right, it can be a great tool to build trust, embed a narrative that an audience can get behind and encourage valuable feedback that the business can learn from. This generation understands how to use key data points intelligently to tell the story of their business to the world and build confidence amongst key stakeholders,” concluded Samuel.