Entrepreneurship is on the rise, as new business applications are at their highest level in over a decade. While the country has lost over 10.7 million jobs since February, according to reports from CNN, new businesses launches are exploding. In the midst of uncertainty surrounding the economy and the pushme-pullyou stimulus package, American entrepreneurship is driving signs of recovery. For the week of October 3, applications for new businesses are up 40% vs. one year ago. If you’re frustrated with your career, or the lack of one, it might be time to stop looking for your next job. Why not create one instead? Is it time to launch your own business, and take matters into your own hands? Here’s how to know if entrepreneurship is your next career move:
- Where to Look for a Business Idea: in my coaching work with entrepreneurs, the conversation often focuses on innovation. Where do new ideas come from, my clients want to know, and can you help me to find just the good ones? While I don’t have anyone’s map, I do have a pretty good compass. My internal GPS has shown me that the journey to business launch actually starts with discomfort. Many successful entrepreneurs that I work with (myself included) have identified a specific and particular challenge that they have faced. Something that they wish would be different, or easier, or differently easier. What is it in your life that you could change, with a product or service? As Tim Ferriss asks in Tribe of Mentors, “What would this look like if it were…easier?” Could you teach, coach or consult with others, turning your expertise into an entrepreneurial venture? Do you have a particular skill or access to products that people would pay you for? What do you see that others need, right now, that you could provide? Of course, there are a lot of needs in the neighborhood. The address you’re looking for is at the intersection of what people really need and what you would love to do. But don’t stop there.
- Don’t Follow Your Bliss: remember that slogan, “follow your bliss”? Like lots of motivational sayings, it reads better than it works. Bliss is not a business plan. While it’s important to do what you enjoy, it’s crucial that you are paid for your efforts. Otherwise, you’ve got what Carol Roth calls a “jobby”. In her book, The EntrepreneurEquation, the FOX News contributor outlines a plan for turning your bliss into your business. Happiness matters, but it doesn’t show up on a balance sheet. When you are creating your own opportunity, you build on what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”. That’s the feeling of having your hands on the wheel, and being in the driver’s seat for your livelihood. Just make sure your business vehicle is one that throws off some cash. Because bliss doesn’t feed the bulldog.
- Take the Entrepreneurship Test: If someone gave you $100, and you had to double your money, what would you do? The entrepreneurship test is a simple experiment that I share with entrepreneurial groups, investors, leadership classes and business schools across the US. The rules are simple: you have to double your money, but you can’t ask someone for a handout or loan. You have to keep your pants on (nothing criminal or illegal) and you can’t spend more than you have in order to start your venture. What would you do? Your answer might point you towards your natural enterprising spirit – and yield some surprising results!
- Don’t Go It Alone: If you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you’re holding some cash, an investment in a franchise might be the smartest move you could make. Here’s why: invest in a franchise and you are buying a proven business system. You don’t have to figure it out all by yourself. On a simpler, smaller scale, consider an online marketplace as a possible destination. Etsy (NASDAQ: ETSY) has more than doubled their stock price this year, by offering an online marketplace for crafty entrepreneurs. Other sites, like Depop, Taskrabbit, and Fiverr offer opportunities for enterprising new ideas and gig workers. Got an attic full of vintage clothes and a head full of new ideas? Turn towards an online marketplace, and exercise your entrepreneurial muscles.
- Stage A Comeback: Gartner says that 1/3 of companies are replacing full-time workers with contingent ones, as a cost-saving measure. Technology is allowing employees to work from anywhere – one of the emerging trends in the future of work. So, map this out: who says you have to be an employee? Could you turn your position into an outsourced consulting arrangement, where you establish a series of deliverables and milestones on your own terms? Could you quit and comeback, as a hired gun (not an employee)? If you could do that for another company as well, you would scale your expertise. Outside of people issues, most frustrated employees struggle with two aspects of their job. They get bogged down with the time and terms around their role. Guess what consultants are able to control and offer? Time and terms. What is it that you could offer, that would be extremely high-value to a company, while giving you the ability to offer that service to more than one buyer? Welcome to the consultant’s business model. Could it be a fit for you?
The thriving entrepreneurial economy is an unexpected symptom of the coronavirus. While some sectors have been crushed by this pandemic, many entrepreneurs are finding new roads. Could you be one of them? You don’t have to wait on a stimulus package to create opportunity, if you’ve got ideas of your own. What if your job or your old employer isn’t coming back? You’re not out of options – there’s an exit ramp just up ahead. We all have the ability to innovate. You can create new ideas, go beyond your bliss and build a business. I’m not saying that launching a business is the only way to go, but is it a path worth exploring? Perhaps your next career move will lead you to create your job, not just look for one.