Bad Economy Puts People in Touch with Inner Entrepreneurs

Ann All

Earlier this year I wrote about how the recession was making us workaholics, with many people afraid to take vacations for fear of losing their jobs.


Turns out the recession is also making entrepreneurs of some who get pink slipped. spoke to several of them, including an unemployed husband and wife who moved from New York to Silicon Valley to launch a startup social network, an out-of-work software product manager who created a rechargeable battery service for companies, and a woman who started teaching swing dancing after losing her job at a nonprofit.


While the MercuryNews article offers only anecdotal evidence, the Kauffman Foundation put some numbers to the trend, finding that an average of 320 out of 100,000 adults created a new business each month in 2008, compared with 300 out of 100,000 adults in 2007.


I've written before about immigrants' willingness to launch new businesses. Many fled from countries beset with wars or other political turmoils. I speculated this might make them tolerant of risk, a necessary quality for entrepreneurs. Over the years, friends have encouraged me to strike out on my own and become a freelance writer, but I am too scared to give up the regular paycheck. In contrast, a twentysomething entrepreneur I mentioned in my post seemed relatively unfazed by the idea her startup might fail. She said:


My parents came to this country from Cambodia when they were 40 with three kids, no money and no English. What's the worst that can happen?

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 20, 2009 3:50 AM Raj Menon Raj Menon  says:

You are right. People who have nothing or much to lose take more risks and eventually fulfill their usually hidden ambitions such as being entrepreneurs; than those who have a safe alternative to lean on. Its like bargaining in a store (or a sidewalk in South India) for something you want (like a book), you bargain/negotiate better (being more risky) if you feel you can live without it. Its a pessimistic approach to success, I think.

I like the quote from your Cambodian friend too.

Raj, a leadership blogger @

Oct 21, 2009 11:47 AM Anna Anna  says:

I think another thing to mention is that cost of entry into the market can be relatively low nowadays, particularly with social media sites.  Using your husband and wife social team as an example, setting up an online network does not entail a huge financial commitment but does require that ever important USP which stands you apart from a competive market.

Oct 21, 2009 12:24 PM Jim Campbell Jim Campbell  says:

Finding a job when over fifty years old has been a challenge for decades (forever?). Now that the jobs market is so tight and the economy being what it is pretty much makes the decision the become an entrepreneur a "no brainer." But it's just not as easy as making the decision and getting to work. There's a mindset that needs to be understood and learned. We're talking about going from "paycheck to profit" mentality and it is different. Have a look at this and begin learning soon ...  


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