The economy dominates conversations in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in newspapers, political speeches… Sure, Wall St. has been on a roll in September, but when it comes to the real heart of our economy – jobs – the numbers haven’t been pretty. According to the Labor Department’s recent jobs report, the unemployment rate rose for the first time in four months – ticking up from 9.5% in July to 9.6% in August.
Private employers have added 763,000 jobs so far this year – but there’s still a big hill to climb considering the U.S. economy lost nearly 8.4 million jobs in 2008 and 2009.
It’s a dismal picture, but is there also an opportunity? According to Kimberly Palmer, writing for US News & World Report back in 2009, “going against the tide and starting your own business in a recession not only lets you escape from the corporate grind, but it also can be easier than it would be during boom times.”
For some entrepreneurs, self-employment is simply a matter of necessity. After a layoff, a side hobby turns into a way to pay the bills. Or a former employee begins her own business as an independent contractor.
However, there are several actual advantages to beginning your business in a down economy. For starters, your costs are lower – real estate prices are down, advertising and other services are heavily discounted, and you can find very talented individuals willing to help you for significantly less than during a boom time. It’s easier to find partners and vendors. And, you can take advantage of the down time to develop your product, branding, and service offerings — so you’ll be ready to roll once purse strings start to loosen.
Remember that during a recession, individuals and businesses put off spending and new purchases wherever possible. This creates a major need for goods and services as the economy rebounds. By doing the hard work during the recession, your business will be in position to benefit from this pent-up demand.
My husband and I founded CorpNet, an incorporation service that helps small business owners get their companies off the ground. I talk to entrepreneurs and small business owners on a daily basis, in good times and bad. While the personalities, circumstances, and business types vary, I often hear common themes across each conversation:
- Vision: These entrepreneurs have a strong vision. And this isn’t necessarily the same thing as having a hot idea: a vision is an inspirational picture of the future, an idea of what you want to achieve. This vision statement is an essential foundation to communicating with employees, investors, partners, and customers.
- Passion: So many of these small business owners are truly passionate about their area of business. It resonates with them; it’s meaningful. I hear it in their voices; their speech picks up ever so slightly when they start describing their business. And, this passion is key, since many end up working harder than they did in the corporate world.
- Determination: Vision and passion are great, but successful entrepreneurs have the guts and persistence to turn that idea into plans, and then execute those plans into reality. In this economy, business owners must be willing to grow in stages, and keep their startup costs low — from working out of their garage, to bartering services with other vendors, and learning how to use social media for free word of mouth marketing.
- Gratification: Being self-employed offers a level of satisfaction that’s just not there when you’re working for someone else. These entrepreneurs felt confined by the 9-5 structure or monotony of projects — and the challenge of striking out on one’s own can be exhilarating.
So often, people have been thinking about starting a business for years. It has been a nagging idea that pops up now and again — and then is put aside for one reason or another. A sluggish economy and job market can actually be an opportunity in disguise to finally put aside any fears and follow these ambitions… to finally give yourself the chance to listen to what your gut or heart has been trying to tell you for years.
It’s the small business that’s going to turn our economy around. After all, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small firms are responsible for generating 64% of net new jobs over the past 15 years. And in his latest stump speech, President Obama called small businesses “the places where most jobs begin.”
We need brave, passionate entrepreneurs now more than ever. You’re the backbone of our economy. Think about it. By following your passion and vision, you are not only embarking on an exciting journey, but you have the power to build opportunity for yourself and for others. Your small business can put our country back to work.
Nellie Akalp is the CEO & Co-Founder of CorpNet, Incorporated, her second incorporation filing service company based on the simple philosophy of truth in business and her strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in getting their business off the ground in a fast, reliable, and affordable manner.Subscribe to the Podcast