20-Something Business Trends: The Online Entrepreneur with Time and Money

Graham Lutz, the Young CapitalistEditor’s Note: Graham Lutz, our latest guest expert, will be writing from the perspective of the 20-something entrepreneur.  In this first article Graham helps us understand the motivations behind Gen Y’ers who start online businesses.

By Graham Lutz

Generation Y (25 and under) has grown up watching their parents go off to work every day, 40 – 60 hours per week, with fierce loyalty only to be downsized, outsourced, or laid off in their 40’s and 50’s.

This reality has the 20-somethings with a different mindset from previous generations. We do not want to merely work our time away, but to live a life of significance and fulfillment. That means being and doing more than just having.

In order to be the things you want to be and do the things you want to do, you must have time AND money. Yeah, we want the big tv and the fast car, but more than that, we want quality of life, and those of us who have a nice car know that it does not necessarily translate into quality of life.  Tim Ferriss says in his blog:

Only in the last three years have I really come to understand the concepts of time as currency and positional economics. Before I explain how you can use both to exit the rat race and dramatically upgrade your Lifestyle Quotient, let’s look at some numbers …  According to polls on this blog:

46.88% of Americans say they would need to make more than $200K a year to be happy

63.41% of Americans, assuming prices remained the same, would rather earn $50K in a world of $25K earners than earn $100K in a world of $200K earners

74.64% of Americans would rather get Fridays off vs. a 20% raise

Would you be happier if you were richer? A recent study published in Science by a group including Princeton professors Alan Krueger and Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for his work in behavioral economics, indicates that annual income is less important than anyone could have guessed. In fact, it gets less important as the per-capita average continues to grow.

He goes on in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, to talk about quality of life in a way in which most have never thought, speaking to relative income as opposed to absolute income. He also coined the term, Lifestyle Quotient, a measure of the number of hours you work per day of vacation!  I’m sure you’ve heard of the book, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s a MUST!

This trend of being and doing is showing up more and more with the “Make Money Online” crowd. The site 45n5 has compiled a list of the Top 100 Make Money Online Blogs. Most of these blogs are people with full time jobs who are making money on the side, and some of the more notable sites include:

  • John Chow dot Com, though not in the 25 and under category, is nonetheless a clear influence on the Gen Y internet entrepreneur. His site is where you can get the official Make Money Online With John Chow dot Com eBook free when you sign up for his newsletter! This comes from a man making $17,000+ per month from his blog. Needless to say, he knows what he’s talking about.
  • CashBulge is “Your authority on everything financial, from the internet entrepreneur to the off-line money mogul.” These two New Yorkers have made over $1000 from their blog and other online ventures.
  • Blogtrepreneur is run by Adnan, a young kid from the UK, who I believe is still in high school. He’s making money online and teaching others to do the same. Talk about a real entrepreneur, he’s just started a consulting business, blogLOUDER.
  • MindPetals is not just a community for young entrepreneurs, but “a philosophy that instills ambition, determination, and encouragement in the minds of entrepreneurs making things happen, not just talking.” Check out David Askaripour and the 19 other contributors to the site!
  • Small Fuel Marketing is “Simple Marketing Guaranteed to Grow Your Small Business.” They are not all about the lowest priced solution; they just want to provide the “absolute best way” to grow your business. Mason Hipp left college last year to go full steam ahead with his own business online!

This is just a small slice of the pie when it comes to making money online, because you have the eBayers and network marketers to add to this group. When it comes right down to it, we don’t see security in the 9-5 anymore, and we are not going to leave our financial future in the hands of someone else.

Question for Gen Y:

What are you doing to take hold of your financial future and safeguard yourself against the tumultuous corporate world?

* * * * *

If you liked this article, you can check out more from Graham Lutz at OneThousandaMonth.com.


31 Reactions
  1. As someone who fits into this category myself, I couldn’t agree more. 9-5 just isn’t appealing to many people, so we’re scrambling to find alternate ways to generate income, especially online.

  2. Graham,
    Thank you for your article. I just started to read The 4 Hour Work Week.
    I am a 40 something, who wants more in the way of quality of life!
    I just set my e-mail on auto-reply, like Mr. Ferriss suggested.
    {It does not work yet, and the company has a phone number that begins like this}:
    40-772, for tech support, but who said it would be easy!
    Great food for thought, Graham
    Joel Libava

  3. That’s exactly the way I’m thinking. I work for a great company, but Gen Y’s like myself and my business partner desire a freedom and income that doesn’t come with a 9-5. We started livvit.com two months ago and in it’s first full month it had 10,000 visits.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I would rather make less money and have a happier more relaxed life. After all, the more money you make the more you end up spending. So you really don’t end up that much ahead than if you made & worked less. We all want the freedom to do what we want at our own speed and schedule.

  5. Graham Lutz, The Young Capitalist

    Hey guys!

    Thanks for the encouragement, I’m glad you related with my article! “rich” “millionaire” “wealthy”, these are all terms that most people relate to money, but I believe that in order to live a “rich” life, you absolutely CANNOT have your main focus be on an arbitrary amount of dollars. yeah, I would like to be fabulously wealthy, but it won’t come at the expense of a happy home life.

    It’s great to see other youngins taking control of their financial future. Drop by TheYoungCapitalist.com and we’ll continue!!



  6. As a “Generation Y’er” myself, I also completely agree with your blog. There’s a balance to be achieved between making enough money to live comfortably and having the TIME to live. After all, what use is all the money if you can’t enjoy it properly?

  7. Hi Graham,

    Great subject to bring up in the small business community. In reality, starting a business (online or not) is probably the best way to leave the 9 to 5 world without shooting yourself in the foot.

    That said, starting a small biz can require a whole lot more than 8 hours a day. My advice to anyone who is thinking about going into business: make sure you have a dream to work towards, and make sure you’re absolutely in love with that dream. It’s the only way you’ll make it through successfully (and with your sanity). You really have to believe in it.

    Good luck to everyone, and thanks for a great article Graham.

    – Mason Hipp

  8. Quality of life is somewhat more important to me. I would rather have that Friday off. This was some interesting reading.

  9. Hey Graham – great article (and thanks for linking out to me).

    You’ve definitely hit the nail on the head, in that us Generation Y’ers don’t fancy the “secure” jobs anymore (which are becoming less and less secure anyway). I myself like the risk factor and the potential room for success associated with entrepreneurship online – thus one of the many reasons why I started a blog.

  10. Mason, you are absolutely right when you say that “starting a small business can require a whole lot more than 8 hours a day.” But I think for many people, working more hours to build something for yourself can be much more rewarding than slaving away 10-hour days for another person’s business.

  11. Graham, you raise several compelling points in your article. First you are correct that financial security rests solely on the shoulders of each individual. The days of a social contract between employers and the rank and file are history and have been beginning in the early 90’s. I learned early on that employers view “change” as good which is code for turnover is affordable when compared to the cost of legacy expense. All this translates to a very volatile day-to-day work environment. One solution is indeed self-employment, an alternative that I myself have embraced on numerous occasions. The key to making self employment work is realizing the argument is not quality of life alone – hell I’m 48 years old (what does that make me – generation “P” or “Q” – we all said back in the day; ” I’m not going to live to work, I’m going to work to live”), rather, the question should be do I have a business idea/opportunity that withstands scruinity and maintains a sustainable competitive advantage. To that end, I recommend all want-a-be entrepreneurs follow a conservative business strategy coupled with a sound Board of Advisors – and always partner yourself with experts.

    Self-employment by definition is risky. Risk is what provides reward, but in isolation is anything but sexy. Being on the downside of risk can and will ruin lives. Therefore, anyone contemplating jumping off into the realm of the uncharted better be ready to accept failure. Because if you can’t afford failure, you sure as shoot’en ain’t ready for success. It has been my experience that utilizing lessons learned in the classroom coupled with exploiting free advice such as from SCORE et al helps to mitigate the early stumbling stones afflicting most emerging entrepreneurs.

    The key to success for any new/young business is to position your balance sheet to be sound, predictable, and in the middle quartile.

  12. Mila – Absolutely true. I may need to work 10,12, or more hours on some days; but I’ll take that in a second to a 9-5 job working for someone else.

    Neal – I think your post exemplifys some of the differences between your generation and ours. While I agree with many of the points you make, I think that our generation sees starting and running a small business as less or equal in risk to getting a job (in the long run, at least). How many big companies are failing to pull through on their promises? How many more layoff rounds do we need to see before we start to distrust employers? I, for one, would rather rely on myself and my company to provide for my retirement.

    As with most issues, there is a lot of truth and value to the arguments of both sides. I think it is up to the individual person to ultimately decide which path is the right one for him or herself.

    – Mason Hipp

  13. Mason, to coin a golf phrase – your comments were “dead, solid – perfect”. Most of your post is completely congruent with my remarks. I feel good thinking my future social security rests in the hands of responsible individuals such as you (ha ha).

    From one entrepreneur to another, take no prisoners.

  14. Hey Graham — Excellent articles.

    It’s posts like this that help keep the young entrepreneur’s spirit alive and strong! Keep on spreading the word and motivating young entrepreneurs.

  15. Oh Moses smell the roses! “We do not want to merely work our time away, but to live a life of significance and fulfillment” Well welcome to the universe of ‘duh!’.

    C’mon man, there’s no damn point in thinking you’ve come up with some new generational break point. I mean, really. No one in the history of modern capitalism has ever conceived of “living a life of significance and fulfillment?” Please spare me the saccharine.

    I’m an entrepreneur in my early twenties, and I have four generations of entrepreneurial family members whose example I look up to and learn a great deal from. Let’s give credit where it’s most due. (And hint, it’s _not_ with our generation!)

  16. I’ve read Tim Ferriss’s book and enjoyed it.

    However, acknowledging that time is the new currency doesn’t go far enough. Tal Ben-Shahar, author of ‘Happier’ and professor of positive psychology at Harvard, says that happiness is the ultimate currency.

    Despite your characterization of us parents who “go off to work every day, 40 – 60 hours per week, with fierce loyalty only to be downsized, outsourced, or laid off in their 40’s and 50’s,” many of us don’t fit that mold.

    Time and happiness do matter to us (I’m 47) just like they do to you, and that’s the danger in generalizing from one generation to the next.

    Many of us feel more productive and creative than at any other time in our lives. We know that we have more to offer the world than ever. Many of us have, God willing, 30 or more productive working years left in us.

    It’s true that when they began our careers, we were bombarded with the fact that we should save for retirement, but retirement is becoming an obsolete concept. Besides that, many of us don’t want to retire, or wouldn’t if we, too, could find happiness through fulfilling work and careers.

    Yes, we see ourselves as ambitious, disciplined, hard-working, driven, dedicated, willing to sacrifice, able to conform if we have to, and have a respect for authority. At some earlier point in our lives, many of us chose to sacrifice work-life and work-family balance and living today to get ahead, make a living, and take care of their families.

    We feel that we’re being forgotten because of the generalizations. As it turns out, we’re not so different you and me.

    Finally, we feel that, although the ideas, creativity, energy, and optimism of the young are admirable and needed (many of us possess these qualities as well), so too are the experience, maturity, patience, and respect that we possess, and that they deserve the happiness that others are finding, and NOW.

    I admire you for turning old paradigms on their heads, but please don’t write us Boomers off just yet.

  17. David, forgive me for the generalizations, but you must remember, I’m 22 so I think I know everything. It may be that I’ve chosen to surround myself with the entrepreneurial youngsters so I don’t see it, but I’m sure there is a large portion of my generation that has been brainwashed into the “get a good job” category.

    I’ve heard it said that a man’s (or woman’s) most productive years are between 40-60 for those who don’t burn out. I’m hoping to give myself a headstart!

  18. David B. Bohl at SlowDownFAST.com


    No worries. I applaud you and many others who are turning corporate culture and work-life balance assumptions on their heads. It gives others permission to do the same and lead the lives that they choose, not the ones that are expected of them.


  19. Your article echoes what many of us in our 40’s and 50’s are feeling, too! I read the 4 Hour Work Week and it made an enormous impact on my life and what I consider my quality of living. I agree, it’s a Must-Read! Actually doing the numbers for my Dream Life on http://www.fourhourworkweek.com (free calculator) was a major eye-opener.
    This book was one of the inspirations for starting my blog to help other women become financially free. Thanks for the great insights.

  20. Liz at MoreThanWeKnow.com

    I found your post very encouraging – it is great to see your generation taking advantage of the opportunties for work-life balance that are available now and for committing to an integration of work and life.

    When you judge the Boomer generation (as you can’t help but do) don’t forget that PCs, the internet, telecommuting, etc. did not exist when we were your age. (God – I sound so old! I’m 46) . Layoffs also hadn’t occurred yet – so don’t forget that the game switched on us midstream. Give us some due for playing the game as it was presented, and being flexible enough to adapt when things changed – layoffs, outsourcing, pensions diminished, health care costs increased.

    Many of us are now also taking advantage of the virtual opportunities that your generation has embraced and finding more balance in our lives. It’s very motivating to see the example set by your generation in approaching work from a different perspective and making up the rules as you go along and it’s very motivating seeing Boomers reinvent their jobs. Here’s to all of us living the time of our lives!!

  21. Great Post very useful for young people.

  22. Hi Graham,

    Your blog is great, I have just been browsing and I like your articles.

    I like this one particularly. Its a great motivator. Keep posting, I will be checking back regularly.


    Jonny Hardwick

  23. Great article. I enjoy hearing about entrepreneurs who triumph potentially devastating situations and rise from it with a leaner, more efficient business and go on to achieve everything they desire.

    Jason Webb