The fall of Main Street is but decades away.
The idea of a small business has been changing dramatically over the past few years. In the past investment was needed for rental space, product development, and marketing. Today, all three can be achieved for under $100 thanks to the internet. People are starting businesses every day at the click of the button without the hassle of past generations. Yet despite this ease, the current entrepreneurship environment has decreased for a younger generation.
“According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 48 percent of national employment in the United States. In number, they represent 99.7 percent of all businesses in the country. Small business owners, some with staffs of 500 employees, others toiling alone in a home office, and plenty more in-between, are the stewards of an enormous segment of the American economy.” Today the “average age of a small business owner is over 50.”
While Millennials may be seen as risk takers, they actually are the most conservative generation of the past 100 years. The issue is the culture. Born into a fading economy with previous generations working for more years then ever, opportunities have dropped. For Millennials, getting a good paying job and providing for a family is the main focus. With a decrease in small business ownership, and the new use of the internet as the default customer experience, the need for malls, physical locations, and products is at an all time low.
For a new generation Main Street will no longer be a priority, but rather a niche market for dedicated business owners. We are entering the extinction of Main Street.
And that’s ok. If you think about it, this lack of need for capital and location will make it easier to start a business. Business development centers will now have to evolve with the changing times to match the new idea of a business which is no longer the result of a business plan but rather cultural experience.