Kira Vermond: Entrepreneurship can be an appealing career option in lean times
- June 10, 2009 8:31 AM |
- By Kira Vermond
By Kira Vermond, a Canadian freelance writer.
(Listen to the original audio.)
There was a time when George Blaisdell struggled financially. His oil business went from boom to bust. And he worried about how he would stabilize his family’s fortunes. So, despite a legion of family and friends who said he was crazy, Blaisdell decided to sell elegant Austrian-style lighters. He rented a room over a garage in Bradford, Pennsylvania and he designed a lighter that was both stylish and a cinch to use.
Each Zippo lighter cost $1.95.
Now, a buck ninety-five doesn’t seem like much today, but Blaisdell launched his product in the darkest days of the Great Depression. His family now admits that desperation probably spurred him on. There was no Plan B.
Still, the Zippo story highlights the fact that a good idea and a dedicated entrepreneur can start a business when times are tough.
Maybe that’s why venture capital conferences, like you’d find in big cities like Toronto or New York, are still drawing in those who have money - and those who want it.
For, say, $125, entrepreneurs pay for the privilege of standing in front of angel investors. They’ve got maybe two minutes to pitch their idea.
In a sagging economy, this speed dating of the small-business world seems a bit like buying a lottery ticket. As a whole, venture capital investing is down in every sector, with the exception of clean energy.
But that isn’t to say starting a startup is a bad idea right now. The economy needs people with great ideas who will become the employers of the future. So there are a few reasons why now is the perfect time to incubate a small company.
Let’s start with the obvious: We’ve got the time.
When the economy tanks and people are laid off or take early retirement, entrepreneurship can actually look like an appealing career option.
A recession also forces entrepreneurs to rethink their ideas before hitting the market. In booming times, a fistful of money from a venture capitalist can make any harebrained idea look like its got legs.
Without a bunch of cash though, it’s hard to hide a bad plan.
And don’t forget that lean times mean even a small startup has access to higher quality employees in search of a job. That experience is invaluable.
Lastly, if you start now, you’ll be ahead of the pack. There’s less competition. And in the time it takes other people to enter the market, you’ll be that much further along and ready to raise big bucks.
Now, of course you need a fabulous concept. No one is going to rubber stamp a new restaurant deal right now, for example.
But if, like Blaisdell, you successfully launch a new product in tough times, you’ll eventually have both credibility … and serious bragging rights.
- Andrew Wahl (19)
- Andrew Willis (13)
- Bob LeDrew (10)
- Dan Noel (1)
- David Baskin (18)
- David Berman (1)
- David Colman (14)
- Deborah Yedlin (29)
- Duncan Stewart (29)
- Ellen Roseman (90)
- Jacqueline Drew (10)
- Jim Bray (25)
- Jim Jubak (6)
- John Gilchrist (4)
- Kelly VanBuskirk (6)
- Kira Vermond (73)
- Loraleigh Kovacik (9)
- Michael Hlinka (183)
- Peter Vincent (16)
- Pierre Battah (1)
- Todd Hirsch (1)
All News blogs
- Kira Vermond: Resolutions for Work
- New Year, new you. At least that's what you're shooting for in 2012 at your workplace. This is the year that you're going to ditch your wallflower ways, speak up in meetings and take the initiative.... Continue reading this post
- Ellen Roseman: Air Miles-Use them or lose them!
- If you're collecting Air Miles, you now have only five years to use them. And if you don't redeem in time, you'll lose them.... Continue reading this post