Becoming your own boss is an attractive idea and many corporate people are taking the plunge in the direction of starting their own companies, could this be the way of the future US Economy?
Leave a good job to start a business? I did it. So can you.
By: Alan Cleaver
Did you ever read a news article that reminded you so much of yourself, it was almost eerie? Well, that’s how I felt after reading this article on “Why Are Americans Leaving Good Jobs to Go Solo?”
Every single quote resonated with me. I felt like these people were living my life and speaking my thoughts. Get out of my head, Internet!
But seriously…this article makes several really important points about new trends in the U.S. job market that are pointing toward more people deciding to start a business.
- According to the Kauffman Foundation, the number of new businesses in the U.S. is growing at the fastest rate in 15 years. This is good news on many levels – even though unemployment remains stubbornly high (9.1% nationally), every single new business is a potential bright spot and a potential source of new jobs.
- Most people who decide to start a business are not doing it because they can’t find a job. “Lack of employment options” is a factor for only 4% of new businesses. What this means is that the kind of people who decide to start businesses are the kinds of people who have plenty of career options – skilled, educated, motivated, ambitious, well-connected professionals. If corporate America can’t keep them happy, these people are going to go out and create something for themselves. That’s what I did – I resigned from a good job at a Fortune 500 Company, with excellent benefits and a 401(k) match, and I don’t regret it for a second!
- Most new business owners are “midnight CEOs” who start their companies while working at the day job. Just like we’ve written before about the “rise of the moonpreneurs,” if you want to start a business, often the best way is to start something on the side while you still have a full-time job (and income and benefits). Contrary to the popular image of entrepreneurs as a bunch of risk-taking cowboys, the truth is that most new business owners are prudent, pragmatic and careful about risk. They want to make sure the new business will succeed before they give notice at the day job. (I did this, too – I worked as a freelancer at night and on weekends for over a year before I finally pulled the plug on my corporate job. It was a great way to build up savings, make contacts and gain confidence in my new venture.)
- Most small business owners don’t want to get big. Not everyone wants to be (or is cut out to be) the next Steve Jobs or the next Google. Most small business owners interviewed in the article said that they were happy to stay small. The article featured an interview with an attorney who left a big law firm to start his own solo practice. He said, “My goal is to hit a certain income level and stay there – to make the same as a corporate lawyer for less work.” I can totally relate to this. I’m a sole practitioner freelance writer, and I love having a payroll of one. Maybe someday I’ll want to form a larger team or even something approaching an “agency,” but for now I’m thrilled to just be doing my own thing, on my own terms, with my own clients.
Some economists argue that these types of small businesses are not really creating value for the overall economy – they’re not going to grow and create enough jobs. To these economists, I say: “Who cares?” What if 10 million Americans quit their hated corporate jobs in order to start successful solo businesses? What if all 10 million of those people went on to earn an average of $10,000 a year (after taxes and expenses) more than they used to make in the corporate world?
That would be an extra $100 billion of annual discretionary income getting pumped into the economy – not a bad little stimulus package – and presumably, an extra 10 million corporate jobs would be freed up for people who might enjoy them more than their previous occupants.
So if you want to quit your job to start a business, even if it’s never going to grow, by all means, go for it. Don’t worry about the naysayers – we don’t all have to aspire to be the next Google. Sometimes it’s enough to just carve out a way to earn a good living, while working on your own terms, leaving time to go jogging on a sunny Monday afternoon.