Startup Balkans

How do young people perceive startups?

Are people in their early twenties interested in startups? Blagica Eftimova gives her perspective on North Macedonia youth and their perception of startups.

Young people are the future leaders who are shaping the main aspects of society. They have many opportunities to start their business, or a startup, but are they aware of that? Are they even aware of what a startup is?

Being in your early twenties, freshly out of college leaves you on your own in search of a better future. Many young people choose to go on the well-known and easier path of looking for a job and getting one in corporations. They have passion and motivation, fresh minds, ideas and energy. So why do they prefer to work for others instead of starting their own business?

I spoke with a couple of young people from North Macedonia about their awareness of the word startup and what they believe startups are. Many think that startup is a ‘fancy’ word for starting your day, an application for starting something, and even a method on how to start your car. Although a few, there were a couple of people who knew that a startup is a company created by ambitious people I quote – ‘startup is a vision to achieve the mission for the company, an idea or motive for starting a new business, for starting something yours. Not to be an employee, but rather being a ‘hustler’.

So what is a ‘startup’, and how is it different from a small business?

According to startup guru Steve Blank, a startup is a “temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”. In contrast, the small business runs according to the fixed business model. Key factors that distinguish startups from other companies are speed and growth. Startups aim to build on ideas very quickly. Idea, need, passion, team, and devotion are the key components that are in the core of a startup.

The life of an entrepreneur, especially a young entrepreneur, looks alluring, viewed from the side. Living by your own rules, creating the company you want to work for, and creating your work schedule, is tempting. But, far from just a lifestyle, entrepreneurship is a crazy ride in extreme conditions where you need to watch out for sharp curves and change gears constantly. Understandably, such a life is not for everyone. It is rewarding, but it requires hard work and diligence.

So, why work for a startup or start one?

With the fast-changing environment, young people are following trends and want to impact the world positively. Тhe pandemic thought many job seekers, young entrepreneurs and businesses to pivot and change their business models fast to sustain. These trends and changes pointed young people towards having a startup and nurturing it, instead of being a classic corporate employee. More and more young people are choosing entrepreneurship over employment because only in this way can they realize their dream and act creatively and freely through the economy and the market. Besides that, young people are constantly searching for financial independence and not to have a ‘boss’ over their heads. So, after speaking with young people from North Macedonia about what startups are, I realized that they would gladly work for a startup, even part-time just to get the sense of ownership.

From a young person’s point of view, what’s lacking here is education and exposure to events connected with startups, for both starting and working for a startup. In general, the youth in our country is ‘not formally educated’ when it comes to starting their business. Therefore, we need to better inform young people about entrepreneurship, about different opportunities, available resources, events, and the support that they can get. After all, learning is earning.

Blagica Eftimova