According to the NRMA Insurance Business Owner Sentiment Study, which surveyed 1,500 SME owners, the younger age groups work the longest hours and take the least amount of leaves.
Of those aged 18-34, which cover the millennial and Generation Y age groups, 27 per cent admitted to working more than 50 hours each week. This was slightly higher than the 24 per cent of business owners aged 55 and over.
The gap was much more pronounced when it came to taking holidays. Just under half (49 per cent) of older business owners said they take less than two weeks’ holiday each year, but this rate soared to 70 per cent for those under 34 years.
Why is there a difference between the age groups?
The study overlooked the fundamental point that, by their very nature, older business owners may be much established than those of younger years.
However, what it did identify is that passion is a much stronger driving force for younger business owners than their older counterparts.
More than double the number of youngsters than baby boomers (43 per cent and 21 per cent respectively) admit they want to dominate their industry, become a household name or earn lots of money, thus pushing themselves to work longer and harder.
What the age race means in reality
If these results were to ring true across the population as a whole, there could be profound impacts on competition between similar firms.
Older business owners with more experience can take advantage of the fact they work less hours and are more rested than their younger counterparts.
Conversely, youngsters can use their passion as leverage to offer better services and products than the status quo.
The findings lay waste to common stereotypes of millennials being fickle and self-entitled, at least among those who are self-employed.
“We know millennials are like no generation before them, seeking job environments that offer flexibility, autonomy and a sense of purpose, as well as the creative freedom to grow and move around,” says Amanda Whiting, executive general manager of small business for NRMA Business Insurance.
“While this often wrongly lands millennials the reputation as fickle or entitled, [these] qualities, coupled with Gen Ys and millennials being the most ambitious and tech-savvy generations, [make] younger people well-suited to running their own business.”