Millennials are entitled, unmotivated and allergic to hard work. At least, that’s what I used to think.
But now, over 75 percent of my high-performance team consists of millennials, and they run our ever-growing empire. Sure, there are plenty of millennials who are lazy, entitled and emotionally fragile — but you could say the same about any age group.
You can either focus on what’s wrong with their generation or you can build your empire by becoming the leader millennials have been waiting for and leveraging their skills and unique abilities.
1. They can help you disrupt.
As an entrepreneur, you know the power of a disruptive idea, either because you’ve benefited from one yourself or you’ve had to pivot to adapt to someone else’s.
Of course, it’s always more enjoyable and more lucrative to be the disruptor instead of the disrupted, so you need a team ready to help you disrupt.
Here’s the gift millennials have: They’re natural disrupters. They’re always looking for ways to disrupt the status quo by making things better, by changing how business is done or by attaching a bigger cause, meaning or significance to their work. For you, that’s the golden ticket.
For example, I had a millennial team member suggest we go fully transparent with how our franchisees open and operate their locations, including what they pay for rent, membership prices, buildout costs and rate of growth. So, to implement the idea, we created a website full of case study videos where we have owners pull back the curtain on their businesses and share those critical numbers in full transparency.
We now regularly share these case studies over social media as a form of dramatic demonstration of proof, and they have substantially increased our franchise sales, reduced buyer objections and shortened the sales cycle.
The millennials on your team might have similar big money ideas brewing. All you need to do is share your desired outcome and invite them to speak up, and then give them the structure and guidance to turn those ideas into action.
2. They focus on experience.
The wealth gap is getting wider every day. Unless you plan to become the absolute cheapest option in your industry, this means you need to start catering to more affluent clients and customers.
Affluent clients and customers don’t want stuff, even if it is finely crafted, luxury stuff. They want experiences. So do millennials.
All those trendy apps, pricey music festivals and slices of avocado toast point to one crucial strength among millennials: They obsessively hone their taste in experiences and apply that taste to everything they create.
That’s why two of my millennial team members have taken it upon themselves to completely revamp and update the branding for our franchise. They believe so strongly in our business model and the purpose behind it that they’ve created a full TED talk-style presentation for our franchisees as well as a training course for newly hired team members that explains the brand experience and culture we strive to create for all clients worldwide.
This all comes back to significance. These two are honing the franchise’s brand as a consistent experience because they know from research and experience that it’s the best way to reach more people with our mission.
You know your market and your product or service better than anyone else. Take the time to share your expertise with your millennial team members and they’ll spot experience-making opportunities that you’ve overlooked.
3. They are digital natives.
Stop avoiding it: Social media marketing is the way of the future. It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, what legacy methods are still working or if you’re business-to-business or business-to-consumer, you need to get on board with modern social media or you’ll get left behind.
Marketing always comes down to following people’s attention, and people’s attention is overwhelmingly on social media. That’s true now and for the foreseeable future.
Millennials are your natural allies here. They grew up with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and all the rest. The fact that they’re obsessed with their online lives isn’t something to complain about; it’s a blessing if you use their “factory installed skills” to grow your brand.
For example, my millennial publicity director figured how we can capture the attention of franchise prospects on Instagram by creatively using Instagram Stories to share multiple short stories on a daily basis and give a call to action to get more prospects onto our franchise sales site.
As a result, we’ve gained more franchise prospects from Instagram organically and that’s translated into increased sales without an increase of marketing budget.
If you aren’t already comfortable with social media platforms or if you’re not using social media to its fullest potential to generates more leads and sales then delegate your vision for your business to the millennials in your organization and let them do what they do best to create the outcome you want.
4. They care about your purpose.
Don’t just create a “fun” work culture, create a purpose-driven culture that millennials want to be a part of and are proud of.
There’s no need to spend a ton of money on expensive retreats or structured “culture building programs.” Save your money. Today’s workplace culture is about giving your team a sense of purpose and significance.
You started your business for a reason. You put in the blood, sweat and tears to make it real. You know the story behind it — so share it with your team and remind them about it often.
I remind my team every week about why I started Fit Body Boot Camp: I was a chubby kid in high school, I discovered my confidence, self-esteem and regained my health by getting fit, and now I want to use my expertise in franchising, business and fitness to fight and prevent obesity worldwide. Specifically, I want to impact 100 million lives by the year 2025 through our franchise locations worldwide.
When I share this with my team, I know it helps them do their best work because I can hear these same words come up in their conversations with me and with each other. The more I reinforce our message “why,” the more it becomes part of their daily actions, helping them make faster, better decisions.
Culture starts with your purpose. When you clearly explain your purpose to your team and demonstrate it with your own actions it becomes culture. Have purpose, build your culture around it and millennials will show up, take notice and help you build an empire.
5. They want leadership.
If millennials are pessimistic or entitled or emotionally ill-equipped, it’s because their parents only provided for them in a shallow way.
You can fix this by doing what you do best as an entrepreneur: Leading from the front. Set high expectations. Hold them accountable and teach them to lead. The best thing you can do for your business and your team of millennials and non-millennials alike is to become the leader they’re looking for.
The primary reason the millennials at my fitness franchise headquarters have excelled in their work is because I’ve set high expectations and have given them an example to follow. The fact that they know my personal story and the story behind my business means they can see themselves in that story. They believe that they are capable of becoming leaders and making an impact too, so they work hard and I can trust them with my empire.