‘Youngpreneurs’: the mobile revolutionaries transforming small business

Business growth

Generation Y has been called a lot of things. Self-interested, narcissistic slackers. Spirited, generous, open-minded liberals.

A new study into the mobile habits of Australian small businesses has thrown up a new moniker for the 18 to 34-year-olds of Gen Y:  ‘Youngpreneurs’ - the ‘small business revolutionaries’ spearheading the rise of a new mobile nation.

The ability of Gen Y small business owners to save an average of 10 hours a week – the equivalent of more than 11 weeks a year – through mobile device use was one of the key findings Intuit uncovered after commissioning a Galaxy Research study into the mobile habits of 501 Australian small businesses.

The Intuit Australian Small Business Mobile Study revealed a mobile revolution at play, one that is transforming how and where Australian small businesses operate - with the new, young generation of mobile-native entrepreneurs leading the charge.

Not surprisingly, the study found almost all Australian small business owners have mobile devices (93 per cent), use them to complete business tasks (85 per cent) and say they have had a positive impact on their business (90 per cent).

The surprising finding was the scale of the returns these mobile small business pioneers are generating in all key business areas – time savings, productivity, efficiency, customer service and revenue.

Gen Y leads the way

The study showed the trailblazing small business transformers of Gen Y are using their devices for longer, for more types of business tasks and generating bigger returns than any other group.

These Youngpreneurs spend an average of five hours per day using their devices, compared to three hours a day for other small business owners.

Sixty-three per cent of small business owners said using mobile devices saved time, an average of 7.5 hours per week – the equivalent of nine working weeks each year. Yet for Gen Y, the average savings were greater – an average of 10 hours per week.

One in 10 Gen Y small business owners are saving more than 20 hours a week – equal to 22 weeks a year – from mobile access to their business.

Thirty-seven per cent of small businesses said access to business data on mobile technology has increased their revenue, by an average of 8 per cent. The average revenue growth rate for Gen Y’s was 10 per cent.

Up to the task

What are they doing on their devices to drive these returns? In short, a lot. Twice as many Youngpreneurs use their devices for time tracking, looking up customer information, tracking or logging expenses, project management and preparing quotes, estimates or proposals than any other age group.

Gen Y is also the only group to use mobile devices more for accepting payments than making them. That might reinforce the stereotype of a selfish ‘Me’ generation – but it is also good business management. After all, ‘pay yourself first’ is often quoted as the golden rule of running a business.

While only one in four (26 per cent) small business owners overall believe they are using mobile devices to their full potential, that number soars to 42 per cent for Youngpreneurs.

Gen Y Youngpreneurs may be gaining the greatest returns, but small businesses across the board reported significant benefits from remote access to their business, including:

  • 70 per cent improved productivity
  • 52 per cent respond faster to customers
  • 47 per cent increased efficiency
  • 41 per cent improved customer service
  • 42 per cent improved flexibility in when/where work gets done
  • 18 per cent saved money

This revolution has just begun. Almost half – 48 per cent – of all small business owners expect to spend more time completing business tasks on their mobile devices in the next year. While the business tasks most commonly performed on mobile devices – email, Internet searches, GPS/navigation, viewing account balances and looking up customer information – are relatively mature, the big growth areas are set to be in paying suppliers, conducting Web and videoconferences, and invoicing. 

Taking multi-tasking to new heights

The Youngpreneur’s world is digitally driven and information rich. They are adept at multi-tasking. They grew up listening to music on an iPod, while surfing the Net on a computer and text messaging from a phone. Now their multi-tasking has converged – rather than juggling single tasks on different devices, they are performing multiple business tasks on a single mobile device.

Their entrepreneurial spirit and search for a flexible, balanced life may have fuelled the perception of Gen Ys as lazy job-hoppers. After seeing parents lose their jobs and financial security through corporate restructures and recessions, they view traditional company jobs as both constraining and risky.  Youngpreneurs want to be masters of their own destiny. They want to work their own hours and be their own boss.

A new twist on entrepreneurship

The study showed Gen Y small business owners are putting their own twist on entrepreneurship, enabled by mobile access to their business anywhere, anytime.

They see entrepreneurship as a way of maintaining independence, of owning their own careers. A life outside work is important to them – so they take their work outside the office walls.

Their mobile devices allow them to do all that and stay connected to their small business, business partners, customers and contacts anywhere, anytime. They can work when and where they want.

At Intuit, we believe it is important to support this new breed of small business owners with access to the tools they need to successfully navigate their entrepreneurial journey into the mobile business world. Tools that are already enabling entrepreneurial small businesses to save nine weeks a year. Tools like QuickBooks Online and its apps that enable small business owners to manage their financials on the fly, to seize opportunities and to do more, anywhere, anytime, more efficiently.

The Youngpreneurs show small business success is no longer about ‘right time, right place’ – it’s about doing business ‘any time, any place’.

As these Gen Y small business transformers lead the way in doing business in new ways, adapting and re-inventing as needed, perhaps a more appropriate moniker would be, Generation Why Not?


Brad Paterson

Owner at Intuit QuickBooks

Vice president & managing director of Intuit Asia Pacific.


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