What impact will the growth of social media have on the next generation of entrepreneurs?

So what makes a successful entrepreneur? However you want to measure it, there are common characteristics in those that have made it work. Arguably, the most important being passion and drive for what they do. Without this, what’s the point?

Believing in the success of their business is what enables it to survive. Not only that but they enjoy what they are doing, which leads to a strong work ethic. As the saying goes "you get out what you put in", and successful entrepreneurs usually put in a considerable amount of time and effort to bring their business plan to reality. They possess an ability to not be put off by the challenges and problems that arise, and will continue to persevere to reach their goal.

They are usually very reliable, confident, organised and a self-starter. I know, those sound like the skill sets listed on every resume, but for entrepreneurs these skills are vital. Entrepreneurs don’t simply wait for someone else to tell them the best way of doing things, they have a detailed business plan for success and strategically manage every aspect of it. This means knowing when to pass the buck sometimes and delegate and share tasks amongst their team. They understand their own skill set as well as their weaknesses and know when someone else can perform a task better, or at least as good as, themselves.


So where does social media fit into all of this? Over the past decade it has become an integral part of our lives and one of the fastest growing pieces of technology. In the latest Digital Trends Report, released by We Are Social, we see that 37 per cent of the population use social media, with 34 per cent being mobile social users. This is growing year on year at a staggering rate of 30 per cent. Needless to say, it’s important that our entrepreneurs tap into this growing market.

We are starting to see smaller variances in the age demographics of our use in social media, particularly those such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. On Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube, the younger generation, 16 to 24, dominate the market usage. This leads us to wonder how the use of social media can affect the entrepreneurs of our future.

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The use of social media in our young is largely used as a means of socialising and networking with friends and family. A recent poll showed us that 22 per cent of teens log onto their favourite social media site over 10 times a day. With limited self-regulation on these sites there are bound to be risks involved.

Susan B. Barnes, a professor in the department of communication says that "The main risk to preadolescents and adolescents online today are risks from each other, risks of improper use of technology, lack of privacy, sharing too much information, or posting false information about themselves or others."

It seems that educating our young on the risks involved can overcome a lot of the problems materialising from its overuse. Limiting the amount of time spent on social media, but not banning it, will also significantly decrease the level of pre-teen depression we have seen develop in severe cases. Without understanding the risks involved teens are posting content that they wouldn’t necessarily want shared in a public domain, or for that matter content that future colleges, universities, and employers may see. It is important that they understand the risks here.


But social media isn’t all doom and gloom for our future entrepreneurs. There have also been many benefits making it an invaluable tool for our young, when used correctly. As teens experiment with social media they have the ability to create a unique voice for themselves. They can also join groups and follow posts that share their own values, which will help them feel included. Over time, they can develop their own following through posting engaging content of their own. This increases their confidence online which transfers in their physical lives.

When we think of the younger generation we think of students, whether they be in school, college or university. Social media can be an extremely useful tool to guide them in their studies. They can follow useful research work as well as share their own and learn from fellow students. Today many schools have introduced blogs as a means for students to post their homework and share stories. This enables them to feel included and part of a team.

Linked to this we also see social media as a form of educating our young. I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook posts have shamefully been my first point of news reference on more than one occasion. It enables all of us to keep up with current affairs and be in the know on what is happening in the world. It can be used to reach the younger demographic on a much wider scale.


Creativity increases as the younger generation experiment with new technology from an early age. They are socially aware of what works for the message they want to send and will experiment with new ways to get their message out. Additionally, they have the ability to adapt to changes in technology with ease giving them the advantage over their older peers in future employment.

Following this we find that many of the benefits associated with social media are linked to those common characteristics found in our entrepreneurs. This perhaps leads to the idea that, if used correctly, social media can support our future entrepreneurialism in a positive way.  Additionally, a huge part of making it in business is self-promotion and one of the most popular avenues for this of course, is social media. With all the practice they gain now, our future generation will be able to do this comfortably and have the confidence in themselves to not only promote, but push for those sales and negotiate winning business deals.

Over the last decade we see a far more superior tech savvy generation and the use of social media is supporting this in a significant way. The younger generation will continue to adapt and change to keep up with latest trends, so as much as it may evolve, social media is here to stay. Considering this, it is important to focus on and promote the positive use of social media. Whilst we cannot ignore the risks associated with it, we have seen that they can be lessened significantly by educating our young.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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