Posted on Mar 17, 2017

We know it’s a tough transition to stare at your 30s and say good-bye to youth. Seriously, though, millennials have great opportunities to transform how people live, work and do business in the next three decades. With that power comes great responsibility to manage your finances wisely. This article will stare into the abyss of mortality with you and help you recognize the possibilities to soar rather than settle.

We’ve paid so much attention to millennials in the past decade because frankly, there are a lot of us. Current estimates put our generation at 86 million in the U.S.; that’s 7 percent larger than the Baby Boom generation according to Barron’s. By 2020, millennials are expected to be 50 percent of the US workforce and 40 percent of all voters. Our generation will have significant influence over working conditions (already happening) and over the role of government (with unified efforts).

There may be several minor issues holding millennials back from success:

  • Debt
  • Older retirement ages
  • Fewer available jobs
  • Time
  • Distrust of institutions

Did I say minor issues? Yes, you can either accept your fate as doomed or do what many millennials are doing: build a career from scratch. Some call it a portfolio career, in which an individual has several jobs or enterprises happening at the same time. Others just call that being entrepreneurial.

Entrepreneurial Potential

Reports in Entrepreneur and Forbes call millennials the “most entrepreneurial generation.” I’m not sure that’s true given that the “greatest generation” built a new economy after World War II with a lot of closely held and family-owned businesses that later became household names. They, like us, had little choice but to pick up their feet and make something out of a changing society. Their kids, the Boomers, eventually cut their long hippie hair and followed suit (see what I did there?) and either went into mom and dad’s business or took the college route to a white-collar profession. Today, Boomers are working longer or starting new businesses with the idea that retirement is not about lounging by a pool (because boring). It’s about the ability to choose how you work.

Millennials do seem to have entrepreneurial characteristics, probably by necessity because it’s been so difficult to find employment that fits their degrees. They have:

  • Optimism
  • Digital skills
  • Networks
  • Practicality

Most people our age were taught that everybody gets a fair shot and that it’s fun to work in groups. Our networks have expanded from local to global and we would rather shop online than bother with a store — unless it’s to try something on and then buy it online.

We are open to new technologies and we catch on to them pretty quickly to make life easier. Plus, we prefer to find people with skills we don’t possess and then collaborate to achieve a goal. These four characteristics move us toward leadership in a company or entrepreneurship, both of which can improve our financial position for the future.

I was fortunate. I started at Cornwell Jackson as a first-year auditor in 2004 right out of college from Texas Tech. I was doubly fortunate to have a lot of mentorship and professional development through my family and the firm, which helped me move into leadership positions to support the audit team as well as recruiting. I became a partner in 2015. A great part of my job is helping young leaders and entrepreneurs create financial stability through strong accounting processes and skills.

The good news is that you have time. On average, an entrepreneur doesn’t take the leap into business ownership until his or her late 30s or early 40s. You can still get your financial house in order to plan for small business ownership — or even a side venture from your “day job.”

Continue Reading: Financial Planning Tips to Help You Gain Success


Mike Rizkal, CPA is a partner in Cornwell Jackson’s Audit and Attest Service Group. In addition to providing advisory services to privately held, middle-market businesses, Mike oversees the firm’s ERISA practice, which includes annual audits of approximately 75 employee benefit plans. Did we mention that he’s a millennial and will take any opportunity to be outdoors, including outdoor grilling? Contact him at