Take a risk, start a business

Photo courtesy of The Truth About/Flickr

Rahm Emmanuel has been widely quoted as saying, “You don’t let a crisis go to waste.  It’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”  I agreewith him.

With unemployment in California hovering around 12 percent, now is a good time to start a business.  The process of starting a business stimulates the economy.  There are people to hire, premises to rent and equipment to acquire.  That’s right; I suggest you think about what you are studying, look around you and find a creative solution to a problem or a novel way to improve a product.  And then do it.

Granted, it’s easier said than done.  It takes an enormous amount of work, strong faith in what you are doing, and a lot of guts to go into business for oneself. Credit is tight, too.  Financing is not as easy to come by as it used to be.  It is easier to stay in school a while longer and hope that the economy improves.  But with budget cuts increasing the cost of school and decreasing course offerings, it may make more sense to put your energy into starting that business venture you’ve been thinking about.

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “the chief business of the American people is business.”  He wasn’t kidding. A March 2010 report by the Small Business Association’s Office of Advocacy, “An Analysis of Small Business and Jobs,” stated that, “opening a business has greater consequences for job creation than expanding a business does.”

And with American laws among the most business-friendly in the world, it seems almost criminal not to take advantage and try to get a business off the ground.

Being an entrepreneur has many benefits: your work will mean a lot to you, unlike so many faceless and hopeless cubicle-dwellers who toil in the bowels of large corporations.  You will have the satisfaction of seeing your creative output address a need in the marketplace.  You may be able to set your own schedule.  However, chances are that your business will own you for a while, but that’s OK.  Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of commitment.

But what if your business fails?  The risk of failure is definitely there, and it is reasonable to lose sleep even over a successful business.  But, if you fail, you will still have tried something new and learned a lot.  You will probably walk away with a skill-set better than many.  The report stated that “About half of new firms survive five years or more.”

To be an entrepreneur is to be optimistic.  Entrepreneurship requires faith that one’s vision and initiative will eventually bear fruit.  We all benefit from this.  A rising tide lifts all ships.

You don’t have to think big.  Perhaps you have a few great recipes (and hopefully some business acumen) and a vision for a new restaurant.  You may want to start a co-op or non-profit organization.  Chances are your product won’t change the world.  But, hopefully, you will give your competition some grief, and force him to refine his goods and services.

When all is said and done, you will have gained management and human-resource experience.  You will have picked up some bookkeeping experience, and learned more about accounting and the laws that pertain to your business.  You will have honed your ability to focus, and how to make your short-term priorities fuel your long-term goals.  And, most importantly, you will gain much greater confidence in your abilities.