AS SEEN IN USA TODAY’S LIFE SECTION, DECEMBER 7, 2006
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their parents didn't have. They see beingtheir own boss as a way to resolve theconflict. So now they're pressing aheadwith new products or services or findinga new twist on old-style careers. They'reat the leading edge of a trend towardentrepreneurship that has bubbled fordecades and now, thanks in large part totechnology, is starting to surge."It is a fun-loving generation," saysEllen Kossek, a Michigan State Universityprofessor in East Lansing who has spent18 years researching workplaceflexibility."They view work as part of life, butthey don't live to work the way we weresocialized as boomers. There is a realmismatch between what the younggeneration wants and what employersare offering."Kossek says work-life issues are amongthe top three concerns among younggraduates. But these youngentrepreneurs aren't always thinkinglong-term about running their own shop."Employers aren't offering what theywant, so the young say they'll be theirown boss and start their own business."But "what they find out is that it's not away to get a work-life balance. When youhave your own business, you're workinglong hours, because if you don't work,money doesn't come in."Maybe because this is an optimisticbunch or perhaps because they haven'tplanned their lives further than theweekend, they don't seem too worriedabout work. But because they are youngand so new to the workforce, much of what is known about them is anecdotalwith little existing data about their workhabits.Those who have studied generations inthe workplace, such as author DavidStillman of Minneapolis, do have someinsights. Stillman, who co-wrote the2002 book When Generations Collide,says these young workers have verydifferent ideas from those of earliergenerations."This generation has the group-thinkmentality," he says. "When you are raisedto collaborate at home, then you aretaught how to do that in middle schooland practice it in college, you show up atwork saying 'Where's my team?' They'rejust comfortable working with peers."Many go into business with friends.Maren Seibold, 25, is an environmentalconsultant for a Seattle area company;she teamed up last year with her 26-year-old tattoo artist husband, MarkBentley, and a friend who does bodypiercing, Anthony Mason, 24, to launchMantis Machines, which sells aredesigned version of the instrumentthat professional tattooists use.Seibold, who has a degree in chemicalengineering, tinkered with the tool tomaximize its versatility and use a greatervariety of needles. Mason's father owns atool company and provided thematerials. A $10,000 loan helped themget started. "It was something we allwanted to do," Seibold says.Bureau of Labor Statistics data for2005 show that some 370,000 youngpeople ages 16-24 were self-employed,the occupational category that includesentrepreneurs. In 1975, when babyboomers were young, some 351,000were in that category. While that growthover 30 years isn't striking, indicatorssuggest more change ahead. The Bureauof Labor Statistics projects the self-employed category will grow 5% from2004 to 2014, compared with 2% growthfor the decade that began in 1994.Such growth is largely a result of theInternet, where snazzy websites don'tbetray a home-based operation.Entrepreneurs can be more professionalwith less need for capital or office space.Global communication is easy andimmediate. Businesses can outsourceproducts and services and get a toll-freetelephone number for nationwide access.Taking a risk isn't quite the financial leapof faith it once was."There's such a frontier for possiblebusiness ideas," says Scott Neuberger, 25,CEO of Boston-based Collegeboxes. "Thebarrier to entry is very low and doesn'trequire a lot of money in a lot of cases. Ithink there's more of an entrepreneurialspirit in our generation than perhaps inother generations. Being an entrepreneurhas become cool and sexy."In 2004, Neuberger boughtCollegeboxes, competitor of a businesshe started at Washington University in St.Louis to help students relocate. It nowoperates in 18 states, offering door-to-door pickup and delivery, shipping andstorage services, and appliance rentals.College students also are the focus of Arel Moodie's business, The Placefinder,which helps students find off-campushousing, roommates and sublets at hisalma mater, Binghamton University, inupstate New York. Moodie, of JohnsonCity, N.Y., plans to expand further into thestate and to New Jersey.Getting started required taking a risk."We were scared out of our minds,"Moodie, 23, says. "We realized we'reyoung, and we may not know everythingwe need to know, but what do we haveto lose? If the business doesn't work,we'll totally get jobs like everybody else."The self-employed are considerablymore satisfied with their jobs than areother workers, according to a PewResearch Center poll of 2,003 Americansages 18 and over released in August.They're more satisfied with their salaries,the job security, chances for promotion,level of on-the-job stress, flexibility of hours and proximity of work and home,the poll found.