The future of work: A GoDaddy survey of Gen Z entrepreneurs and side-hustlers  

NewsCategory
6 min read
Geoffrey Brown

The entrepreneurial spirit promises to remain strong in the United States, with a significant portion of Gen-Z Americans (ages 18 to 26) either owning their own business or planning to start one in the near future.  

GenZ is typically quite vocal concerning inclusivity and does not hesitate to hold their preferred brands accountable when standards are not met. Within the fashion and beauty sectors, inclusivity significantly influences whether someone chooses to patronize a business or not. Businesses need to prioritize diverse hiring that ensures a variety of perspectives and insights. Diversity and inclusion must be practiced behind the scenes in addition to being visibly promoted.
Asia Jackson, Gen-Z entrepreneur and previous GoDaddy partner

According to a recent survey conducted by GoDaddy, 32% of Gen-Z individuals polled indicated they were current business owners and side hustlers, while an additional 21% expressed their intention to venture into entrepreneurship within the next 12 months. 

What sets Gen-Z Americans apart from other markets is their strong attraction to being their own boss. They were also significantly more likely to have their own business or side hustle, with an average 27% increase compared to other markets. 

Financial security and planning 

It comes as no surprise that having a secure income is of utmost importance to Gen-Z Americans, with 42% of respondents considering it a top priority. However, this desire for financial security does not necessarily equate to job security, as indicated by a net -17% of affirmative responses in that category.  

Lack of financial resources was identified as the biggest barrier to starting a business among Gen Z'ers, with confidence and lack of skills being distant second-place barriers. Interestingly, confidence levels were slightly higher among females in the US, unlike in other markets, where it was typically lower. 

When seeking financial advice, Gen-Z Americans were 68% more likely to turn to their family rather than a financial adviser. This trend was particularly evident among Gen Z'ers, who not only had a higher preference for self-employment but were also more likely to own their own businesses.  

Harnessing technology 

Gen Z individuals in the U.S. believed that technology has made starting a business easier than ever before, with 62% stating this belief.  

"Gen-Z is a generation deeply intertwined with technology and social media. They actively follow and engage with their favorite brands on these platforms and expect these brands to stay attuned to pertinent pop culture moments. From a branding perspective, this underscores the need to invest heavily in social media marketing and cultivating an online community.”

-Asia Jackson

Additionally, they felt well-equipped to start a business due to their familiarity with technology, and half of them were willing to invest more than a year to ensure its success. 

“SKNFLUENCR is a digitally native platform and podcast and greatly relied on GoDaddy's website building tools and resources for its launch. I've been a dedicated user of Adobe's creative tools since the age of 13 and still utilize them to create graphics and video content for SKNFLUENCR. On the hardware end, it was necessary to invest in podcast-specific equipment as all filming, recording, and editing is done in-house.” 

-Asia Jackson

When it comes to concerns about the future, half of respondents are worried about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). This concern is particularly pronounced among females and the younger end of Gen Z. In fact, 54% of 18- to 21-year-olds expressed concern about AI, compared to 48% of 22- to 26-year-olds. 

“I absolutely use AI to help my business — it plays a fundamental role in supporting my business endeavors. It has helped me in a multitude of areas, such as brainstorming content ideas, scripting videos, grammar checks, persuasive copywriting, creating digital marketing strategies, and even assisting with podcast editing. The potential of AI is so exciting and I’m eager to delve deeper into its myriad possibilities!” 

—Asia Jackson 

In terms of starting a business, online channels are the go-to for Gen-Z Americans, with 70% choosing social media and 50% opting for websites. Americans also exhibit a greater willingness to risk financial outcomes to pursue their passions compared to other countries. 

Motivating factors 

Gen Z entrepreneurs in the U.S. displayed a strong commitment to the long-term success of their businesses. They understood that the first year is primarily focused on setting up the business, with only 44% expecting to be able to work on it full-time during that period. Despite the challenges, 62% of Gen Z were willing to fail and try again. 

While American Gen-Z'ers prioritize a secure income and a work-life balance, they are not solely motivated by the desire to be their own boss. The financial constraint is the biggest barrier to making side hustles come to life, but unlike in other markets, females polled have the same confidence in their abilities as their male counterparts. 

I am firmly of the opinion that a small business cannot prosper without a purpose beyond profit. As a fashion & beauty influencer, I'm routinely working with various trends, many of which echo styles from previous decades. Contrary to popular belief, both fashion and beauty are incredibly politicized. Current events, socio-politics, and colonialism, to name a few, significantly influence style trends and beauty standards. The inception of SKNFLUENCR was driven by a desire to delve into the intersection of beauty, fashion, race, identity, culture, and noteworthy events. I was certain that this exploration would strike a chord with fashion and beauty enthusiasts from all over the world.
-Asia Jackson

Americans also prioritize pursuing their passions over financial security to a greater extent than individuals in other countries. They are more likely to take a pay cut to make this happen, with a similar level of risk tolerance as other markets.  

Conclusion 

The entrepreneurial spirit is thriving among Gen-Z individuals in the United States, with a significant portion of them either owning their own business or planning to start one. While financial security is important, these Americans also prioritize pursuing their passions and maintaining a work-life balance.  

"Beyond their evident economic contributions, small businesses play a significant role in supporting local communities and catering to niche interests with distinct products or services. Unlike larger corporations, small businesses often forge close-knit relationships with their customers, creating a more human and compelling experience. This personal touch fosters a sense of connection and authenticity that resonates strongly with consumers, further enhancing the appeal and value of our work."

-Asia Jackson

They are more likely to seek financial advice from family members and express concerns about the impact of AI on the future. Online channels, particularly social media, are the preferred platforms for starting a business.