Gen Z doesn’t dream of finding the perfect job working for someone else.
Instead, more young people are seeking balance and fulfillment outside of the confines of a 9-to-5: 50% of Gen Z aspires to become an entrepreneur or start their own business, according to a new report from Samsung and Morning Consult.
The report, which surveyed over 1,000 Gen Zers aged 16 to 25, reveals that young people are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the traditional workforce, yearning for more flexibility and opportunities to make a difference in the world.
Many see becoming an entrepreneur as the most accessible career to achieve all of these things.
As online conversations about entrepreneurship and alternative career paths took off during the pandemic, so did Gen Z’s interest in becoming their own boss, says Ann Woo, the head of corporate citizenship at Samsung Electronics America.
“What once seemed like the only path forward, getting a full-time job, has now been divided into so many,” she says. “The idea of spearheading a career that I design and has all the elements I want is a strong source of motivation and empowerment that I think is unique for Gen Z compared to older generations.”
The rising popularity of platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube has created a new class of entrepreneurs called “creators,” a group that includes freelancers, business coaches, gamers and other professionals who share and monetize their expertise on these platforms.
Gen Z, being a generation that’s “extremely online,” Woo adds, quickly realized that “as soon as you start producing content that attracts a following, you can get paid and become a business.”
Corporate Natalie, a 26-year-old TikTok star known for her videos poking fun at work culture, quit her job in tech to be a full-time creator in July 2022.
Natalie, who only goes by her first name publicly, says she’s always been surrounded by entrepreneurship growing up in Silicon Valley — but didn’t imagine becoming an entrepreneur until she posted her first TikTok in November 2020.
She had only spent a year in the office before the pandemic forced her to work from home. Suddenly, Natalie was eating, sleeping and working from the same tight room in her San Francisco apartment — an absurd, new experience, and one she decided to make light of online.
“I was scrolling TikTok after work one day and seeing all these successful content creators on the platform and I thought, ‘Why not me? Why can’t I do this?’” she recalls.
Fast-forward three years later, and Natalie now has over 500,000 followers on the platform.
“Obviously, I love it,” she says. “The autonomy to control my own schedule or choose to work remotely is exciting.”
But, she adds, “the reality of entrepreneurship is, it’s really hard to build something from scratch.” Natalie says she balanced her TikTok side hustle — brand deals, speaking engagements and other streams of income — with her full-time job for nearly two years before she felt ready to ditch the safety net of a traditional career.
“I’m very risk-averse at my core, so my advice to other creators is to always make sure you’ve thought through the finances and reality of what it’s like to live brand deal to brand deal or live off funds raised from investors for your company, whatever that arrangement is,” she says. “You might have to change your lifestyle and make other sacrifices to make ends meet or build something that you believe in.”
How Gen Z’s thoughts and behaviors influence their career choices
Other research has suggested that Gen Z might be more inclined to start their own businesses because they see the world differently.
In May, ZenBusiness, an online platform that helps people launch and manage their own businesses, surveyed 1,000 Gen Zers aged 18 to 25. Over half of the respondents described themselves as neurodiverse, and over 80% of Gen Zers believe that neurodiversity is more of an advantage in entrepreneurship than in a traditional career.
Gen Z is also driven to entrepreneurship “by a healthy dose of impatience,” says Woo. “They don’t want to wait to climb the corporate ladder or be recognized as ‘thought leaders’ in their industries to make a positive, measurable impact through their careers. If you have all of the tools to put your voice out in the world and pursue your dreams, why delay?”