61% of Americans Have Started a Business or are Considering Doing So. | SBDC UNF

61% of Americans Have Started a Business or are Considering Doing So.

We see lots of people who are considering a business startup. They are either creating a business out of a hobby they love, desire to get out of the rat race and spend more time at home, have discovered a better way to do something, or are “accidental entrepreneurs” who lost their job and feel the need to create something for themselves. This Wall Street Journal article from their Reinvent section, shows the increasing popularity of entrepreneurship. 

Ready to be the Boss?

Becoming an entrepreneur seems to be in vogue in this downturn. A 2009 survey by FindLaw.com indicates that 61% of Americans have either started or thought about starting a small business. And according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses employ about half of all U.S. workers and have generated more than half of the net new jobs over the past decade.

Liz Bayer is one of those entrepreneurs. She spent decades in retail management positions for companies like Williams-Sonoma and Bath & Body Works, but eventually grew disenchanted with corporate America.

“I felt that the companies I worked for weren’t invested in growing the company and nurturing the individual,” says Ms. Bayer, now a broker with ProMortgage in San Rafael, Calif. “I had always been interested in the housing market, and knew I had the self-discipline to work for myself, but I was concerned with the amount of self-promotion that was required.”

A Special Mindset

Ms. Bayer’s reservations are quite common — not everyone is cut out to be self-employed. It can take a special sort of mindset. “When you have your own business, no one is giving you direction, and circumstances are always changing,” says Pamela Slim, author of “Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.” “Entrepreneurs are wired to be comfortable with open-endedness and ambiguity.”

Self-employed professionals also are known for being optimistic, competitive, creative and organized. They tend to have a head for business, understand what their customers want and act with integrity. And if they’re passionate about their venture, they work as many hours as it takes to get results.

If you’re tired of leaving your career success in the hands of others and think striking out on your own is a better option, there are steps you can take to ensure that self-employment is a good fit before going too far down the entrepreneurial road.

Start with an online self-assessment or consider consulting with Score, a nonprofit association that provides free and confidential advice to small businesses. Meanwhile, pay attention to the conditions that make you happiest at work.

See How It Feels

“Observe yourself like a bug and note the situations where you feel most creative and excited,” suggests Ms. Slim. “Hang out with entrepreneurs to see if you like the lifestyle, and go through some of the motions yourself — like approaching a customer or advertising your latest project — to see how it feels.”

It’s also important to consider what’s required, personality-wise, of the type of business you want to start. “Entrepreneurship is a continuum, and there are those who feel most comfortable and have the skill set to start new businesses over and over again, whereas others prefer to dip their toe in and then return to work for an established organization,” says Ms. Slim.

Finally, recognize that any kind of self-employment brings with it a host of new accounting responsibilities, from processing invoices to filing endless tax forms. Whether or not you can cope with it should factor into your decision to proceed.

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