I’m a rebel, but when I was starting out in my work life I didn’t know it. Embarking on my career after college, I followed in lockstep with all of the things you’re “supposed to do.” It only dawned on me a few years ago that there was life outside of the status quo. That revelation became Black Sheep and, taking it a step further, it became my company’s rally cry: To shock, to awe to be the agency that changes minds and accelerates impact. That last part that was the kicker—business as usual wasn’t good enough for how I wanted to spend my time. I wanted to do something that really mattered.
That said, I was a late bloomer. Today, young people are born with a purpose-driven soul and a “let’s hack this” spirit. Instead of working backwards from a typical career to more meaning, they start with the latter and forge their own path, eschewing all the trappings of traditional success. No, I’m not taking about Millennials, which have been studied at length for the past several years—this is Generation-Z. Born in 2001 and currently entering high school, this is the largest American generation and also the world’s most educated, connected and altruistic.
Before we know it, Gen-Z will be knocking on our doors and asking how we’re serving their needs, whether they’re looking to work for us or work with us. As small business owners, we better be ready. Here are three things to help your company adapt to the demands of Gen-Z.
- Know Your Purpose
Gen-Zers are cause driven and any company that wants to attract them needs to have a clearly defined purpose that drives their business. Supporting what you care about helps them decide to support you.
- Get Snack Ready
Born with tech in their hands, this generation consumes 8-second media on multiple screens. They like to Snapchat and Instagram their way across the web, not dive deep into content that takes several minutes to make sense of. If you want to grab their attention, think “snack” and not meal.
- Be You, Encourage We
Authenticity is the battle cry of Gen-Z. They crave belonging, but on their own terms and gravitate toward companies that let them celebrate their individuality while becoming part of a community.
The promise of a new generation, especially one as smart and enthusiastic as Gen-Z, is exciting—and a little daunting. The big thing to remember is that understanding goes a long way and that the shifts in perspective this new generation brings aren’t an uprooting of the old way for the new: They’re an evolution. With the ideas above and a little open-mindedness, business and Gen-Z are going to get along just fine.
Aimee Woodall is the owner of the Black Sheep Agency, a Houston-based strategic brand shop specializing in cause-driven marketing, public relations, social media and community outreach. You can contact her at 832.971.7725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Theblacksheepagency.com.