Millennials More Confident in Business Growth

Millennial business owners offer more job benefits and work/life balance, according to The Principal study

Millennials are entering the workforce in record numbers and are starting to leave their mark on the business world. According to new research from The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM: Business Owners, they’re also changing the expectations of running a business.

The survey indicates the millennial business owner has an overall healthier outlook on their business prospects when compared to business owners from other generations. Eighty-three percent of millennial business owners have added staff in the past year, compared to 66 percent of Generation X and 49 percent of baby boomers. Over half (51 percent) of millennial owners say their businesses are growing, compared to just 35 percent of Gen X and 36 percent of baby boomers. Additionally, millennials (48 percent) are significantly more likely than Gen X (31 percent) and baby boomers (23 percent) to add benefits in the coming year.

Millennial business owners are also more likely to offer certain unique work perks than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts. While flex time remains a top perk across the board, millennials are considerably more likely to offer free food, telecommuting, laundry services, onsite daycare and nap rooms, to name a few.

All these amenities point to confidence. Just over three-fourths (78 percent) of millennial business owners think their business financials will improve in the next 12 months, compared to only half (54 percent) of baby boomers and 65 percent of Gen X owners.

Millennials value work/life balance

While some assume the conveniences of modern technology have rendered the millennials remotely “tethered” to their desks at all hours, that doesn’t appear to be so. For many business owners, the average number of hours worked per week is 44.7, down from 45.7 in 2014. Millennials work significantly fewer hours per week on average (38.8) compared to Gen X-ers (47.8) and baby boomer (47.1) business owners.

Business owners are actually leveraging technology to better maintain a work/life balance. Over half (52 percent) of business owners say they use technology that allows them to work from anywhere, half make sure they take their vacation time, 44 percent schedule time for exercise and only 7 percent don’t maintain a work/life balance. Baby boomer business owners (15 percent) are significantly more likely than Gen X (3 percent) or millennials (2 percent) to say they don’t maintain a work/life balance.

“Millennials are demonstrating they’re a new driving force as business owners,” said Amy Friedrich, senior vice president at the Principal Financial Group®. “They are making their mark and doing it in their own unique way. As we watch these trends play out, we’re likely to see a shift, and we may need to adjust to accommodate their style.”

Getting a helping hand

Millennials were overwhelmingly the most likely to use a financial professional. Ninety percent of millennials said they rely on a financial professional for their personal and/or business situation, compared to only 71 percent of boomers utilizing these services.

“Millennial entrepreneurs aren’t trying to do it all – and that’s leading them to be successful. They recognize their strengths in running a business, and aren’t afraid to bring in the right people to manage the rest,” added Friedrich. “Between working fewer hours, more growth and higher optimism, millennial business owners are a force to be reckoned with.”

February 2016 research on business owners

Want to learn more about the results from the February 2016 Well-Being Index report?

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Hillary Gebert

Erica Jensen

About The Principal Financial Well-Being Index

The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: Business Owners surveyed 600 business owners nationwide who own at least 5 percent of a company in the United States with 10 to 500 employees, and are actively involved in company management. The Index is part of a series of quarterly studies commissioned by The Principal Knowledge Center examining the financial well-being of American workers and business owners, as well as advisor opinions and practice management. The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll® from July 29 – August 26, 2015.

About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®)1 is a global investment management leader offering retirement services, insurance solutions and asset management. The Principal offers businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement, asset management and insurance through its diverse family of financial services companies. Founded in 1879 and a member of the FORTUNE 500®, the Principal Financial Group has $527.4 billion in assets under management2 and serves some 19.1 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit

1 “The Principal Financial Group” and “The Principal” are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.

2 As of Dec. 31, 2015.