The ‘YOLO Economy’ and How It Creates A Startup Boom


Over the past two years, an unprecedented period of pandemic-associated disarray has brought about many changes for workers across the globe. Working model transformations have created great unease for many, but in the true spirit of humanity, a new boom has erupted. It has become known as the YOLO Economy. But what exactly is the YOLO economy and how is it related to the sudden rise in startups? Read on for some valuable insight into the phenomenon below.

What Is YOLO?

YOLO is a popular culture acronym that stands for ‘You Only Live Once’. First coined by hip hop artist Drake, the term has moved beyond a trendy catch phrase and now extends to describing a huge shift in the nature of traditional habits. 

The YOLO movement has encouraged many to examine their lives and prompted a call to action. It says, “Take a risk and live life to the full! Follow your dreams! Go for it!” As a rebellious response to punishing work schedules and poorly rewarded burnout, this trend is rapidly on the rise amongst the younger generation especially. On a global scale, there is a newfound sense of resilience in the form of career progression and improved working lives. 

Effects Of The Pandemic

COVID-19 changed working patterns for good, giving rise to this newfound priority shift. The impact of lockdowns and burden of redundancies led to a period of deep-rooted internalisation that prompted individuals worldwide to consider both their personal and working lifestyles. 

Many have since seized the opportunity to change course and this is evident through:

    • Mass resignations
    • The high volume of careers switches
    • The number of people ditching employers to go freelance
    • The boom in start-ups


Personal fulfillment in people’s personal and working lives is the new order of the day, and it’s changing the economic landscape as we know it.

Cue, The YOLO Economy

Much of the proof is in the statistics that have come to light over the previous two-year period. According to a talent migration study by Prudential, of the 26% of workers planning to shift careers post-pandemic, a vast 80% opted to do so due to lack of career advancement. Simultaneously, 45% of Australians revealed that they would rather quit their jobs to start a business they are passionate about, as per a GoDaddy study. What’s more, several studies from around the world are also showing that salary is no longer a leading factor for job retention, with purposeful roles and flexible work now both taking priority.

With such metrics, there is little doubt that a turning point in the working model has been unearthed. In fact, sacrificing well-paid gigs to follow a passion and compromising security to pursue a risky venture are now deeply embedded within the YOLO economy. While this may be deemed as dangerously daring, this new era of humanity-based life evaluation has created a huge power shift in the workplace. Workers are placing themselves at the forefront and refusing to adhere to the demands of employers at their own personal cost — something that was unimaginable before.

The bare bones of YOLO and its connection to the previous two years has urged many to inwardly ask a few questions. “Do I enjoy my job?” “Is there a purpose to my work?” It is this concept of ‘purpose’ that has evolved into a leading factor for future prospects.

Generation Z Leading The Way

Naturally, there are many that are born ‘into’ the entrepreneurial boom — Generation Z is largely shaping this dynamic shift. The proliferation of the Internet and modern technology has led to lower barriers to entry today than there have ever been before in history. Whether you’re Gen Z or not, anyone who wants to start a business can easily set everything independently online and within 24 hours.

Gen Z is also the first generation that is widely rejecting a traditional model, which they deem broken. They don’t view the old system of career progression and success that previous generations adhered to as feasible. This generation sees the soaring costs of living and education. They’ve seen how macroeconomic factors like the 2008 recession and COVID-19 pandemic have exposed the frailty of long-term, stable employment. And as a result, they’re taking a stance that says, “I’ve seen my parents, aunts and uncles, or brother and sisters get laid off due to factors out of their control. I won’t let that happen to me.”

Now Everyone Is Getting Involved

2021 marked the beginning of the YOLO economy, and in 2022 we’re seeing a more definitive move towards human-centric working patterns with all generations joining in. Corporations are incorporating flexible office spaces, hybrid working options, diversity and inclusion, shortened work weeks, smaller gaps between management and workers, and a rise in ‘purpose officers’ to complement other management roles.

Unsurprisingly, those living within bustling cities and colder climates have had more reason to re-examine their lifestyles and working habits during these times. The UK, for example, has seen many changes, particularly within its health service. Upwards of 27,000 nurses and doctors voluntarily resigned from the NHS after pandemic pressure led them to burnout.

Moreover, in 2022, ‘burnout symptoms’ became a leading search term on Google, presumably triggered by the transition to remote working, the navigation of complicated technology to aid communication, and the emotional effects of isolation.

That said, many have, and continue to thrive from the enforced changes. Flexibility within work schedules and an overall healthier balance of life and work has introduced a more attractive working model. It is this very phenomenon that has presented itself as a YOLO opportunity as opposed to a troublesome transition.

Enter The Startup Boom

It would be wrong to undermine much of the negativity that has emerged from the global pandemic. However, it would be equally ignorant to deny the life-changing, professional fearlessness that has prompted ‘The Great Resignation’ and, in turn, many successful startup businesses.

In the UK alone, over 400,000 startups launched in 2020, and similar statistics were found for Germany, France and Japan. In the United States, a record shattering 47.4 million workers quit their roles for pastures new. Statistics of this magnitude demonstrate a universal shift towards greater work-related autonomy.

Simply put, the YOLO economy has firmly laid its foundations, so there has never been a better time to launch or nurture a startup.

It would be easy to only gush over the benefits of starting a business, but any new company presents a certain element of risk, particularly when a stable and often well-paid career has been sacrificed. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that even the most stable of positions can be jeopardised at any given moment. This begs the question, “Is there ever stability?”

Taking Back Control & Creating Opportunities

Being anchored to the same company for years on end with little reward for hard work has been the catalyst for change. Taking control of a career enables risk-aversive decision-making that truly benefits any future. Entrepreneurs can choose their working hours, set their own workflow and dedicate their time and energy to smart-work over hard-work. 

With abundant knowledge, research, and advice now available online, startups are privy to reduced risk factors like never before. As such, the odds are stacked in favour of new businesses that have every chance of success. The proposition of self-employed financial rewards, which can far surpass those of employed earnings, also provides greater self-satisfaction and a vastly improved sense of mental and physical wellbeing.

As thousands of individuals worldwide invest in startup businesses, the knowledge base grows, and available support is at an all-time high. A boom of any nature will ultimately relax over time, but early impressions suggest that there will be a seismic shift with entrepreneurial ventures set to become the new normal. Running a business is no longer reserved for the few, it is becoming a key aspect of transitional career progression for all demographics.

Is the YOLO Economy Here To Stay?

So, is the YOLO economy here to stay, or is it yet another passing trend? A shift towards a more flexible, fulfilling career that allows you more time doing the things you enjoy is now taking precedent. This bodes well for the long-term future of the YOLO economy. Over the next few years, we should see even more people utilizing the vast technology available to start their own ventures. If we’ve learned anything from recent experience, it’s that in the face of adversity, intense innovation and entrepreneurship will thrive.

The YOLO economy is here to stay.


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