Owning one’s own business has often been associated with the American Dream. Along with owning one’s own home, the Dream is to prosper while not being under anyone else’s rule. But while so many of our ancestors immigrated to the United States and started from scratch by building a business, more recent generations tend to take the “safe” route and work for someone else. However, since our country has entered into economic turmoil, it’s not necessarily the more risky route to start up a company. Here are five reason why.
1. There are no guarantees anymore.
It used to be you’d work at a company for 25 years and be rewarded with a pension and a gold watch. You picked and chose your employers based on the benefits package they offered. You paid into a 401k. These days, none of those are guaranteed. A senior employee has been there for five years. Often only teachers and government employees get pensions – and even then, it’s a maybe. People’s 401k’s evaporated. And the balance between what you pay into your benefits package versus what you get back can be laughable.
2. There are more funding options than old-school small-business loans.
With money tight everywhere and even big companies failing, banks might be tough on the most well-thought-out business venture. However, there are alternatives to the typical loan, such as joining a credit union. Because credit unions are not-for-profit, they’re often able to offer better lending terms. In addition, websites like Kickstarter let you crowdfund your business. The site helps you set up a funding page, and you can reach out to friends, family and contacts for investments.
3. Brick-and-mortar? More like brick-and-OVER.
More and more people are setting up online, home-based businesses. With sites like Etsy that let you set up your own virtual storefront, you don’t have to take on an entire shop lease yourself. If you’re not selling products but rather services – such as design, writing or accounting – all you might need is a well-designed, user-friendly website and some simple marketing skills (more on that next) to get people to find – and hire – you.
4. Business tools can be free to cheap.
Social-networking sites have really changed the concept of marketing. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook are free, so non-business-savvy companies can afford to take a chance with their promotional campaigns. Also, with tools like FreshBooks and QuickBooks, cash-strapped businesses can get away with not hiring a bookkeeper or taking on the task themselves.
5. You’d probably get laid off anyway.
Starting your own company is a proactive step. Practically everyone knows someone – perhaps even themselves! – who has been laid off. If you have a fantasy about being your own boss, now might be the best environment in which to try.
Image: Kevin Rosseel