Is a recession a good time to start a company?

BearStarting a company isn’t easy, but it might be a whole lot easier than finding a job right now. In this economy, there are so many talented people on the streets, many of whom have years and years of valuable experience – and are accustomed to pulling in sizable salaries. How are they going to replace that income in a market where six-figure job openings are few and far between?

Launching a business can be the most efficient route to renewed financial security. Not all new businesses make it, but a great deal of any company’s success is within the control of the owner. Owning your own business remains one of the best ways to build wealth, with the potential for income much greater than what most companies would pay an employee.

Entrepreneurship also allows for the possibility of a little more life balance. Anyone who’s logged their time in a corporate gig can tell you that control over how your work fits into your life is generally rare.  Running your own business won’t mean not working hard, but it can mean enormous flexibility in terms of when and where you work. 

Actually, a recession is an excellent time to start a company. It’s not a very good time to be a job seeker, but it’s a great time to be quietly building something that can explode with growth when the economy turns.

It’s also a time when deals can be made. Need website help? Ask an out-of-work programmer to write your code for a particularly modest fee. Can’t afford a salesperson? Find an unemployed sales guy who’s willing to work for commission, just for the short term. Want office space? Look for a compatible company that’s had layoffs and see if you can sublease a spare desk or office.

Back in 2005, I wrote a book on women entrepreneurs. For years afterward, I received calls and emails from people who wanted me to help them figure out how to start their own companies. Recently, I’ve had a new wave of those requests, but there’s a difference this time. Before, I was hearing from people who wanted to start companies to make more money, or have more flexibility, or to fulfill a long-held dream of being their own boss.

Now, I’m hearing from a lot of people who never considered themselves born entrepreneurs. Starting a company is not anything they ever saw themselves doing. But in this job market, it looks like their best option.


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