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Heaven Help the Forced Entrepreneurs

By July 1, 2010

Clate, I swear I'm not picking on you.

Clate Mask, CEO Infusionsoft, published a book on entrepreneurship this spring that I reviewed. I didn't love it. But this post has nothing to do with his book.

I read an article he published today on VentureBeat in which he wrote about the "entrepreneurial revolution" we are experiencing in the United States, brought about, he says, by a number of factors including peoples' disillusionment with corporate life, the job-killing recession, the ease of business entry enabled by the Internet, and the entry of baby boomers (hitting retirement or layoff age) into the entrepreneurship pool.

"[W]e see droves of people who've been forced into entrepreneurship," Mask says. "They lose their job, get a severance package, take a little time to think about what's next... and then commonly start a consulting practice or some sort of solopreneurship. And frankly, I believe this is a great thing for our economy--to have more entrepreneurs out there creating value, filling in voids in the marketplace, conjuring up new products and services that just might become the next big thing when the market turns around."

Clate thinks this is a great thing. Me, I think this is a lousy thing. I hate hearing that people who could not find a job threw in the towel and started a business -- the so-called "forced entrepreneurs." Here's why: my experience coaching people on job search and career management, as well as entrepreneurship, tells me that most people who can't find a job usually don't know how to mount an excellent marketing campaign to get one. Not everyone, but most. These folks struggle for many months, feel miserable about themselves, give up the job search and start a business. But many would really rather have a great job.

To start a business, you have to be operating at 100 percent of your mental and physical capacity. After being beaten half to death by the job market, dwindling finances, tensions at home, you....start a business? Creating a business -- even one that involves only you -- is an activity that nature attacks with a vengeance. All her forces are against the success of start-ups (or else everyone would do it, right?).

You wants to start a business, you gots to have a couple of things:

  • Mental and physical health that's as good as it can possibly be. Out of shape from hanging around the house answering ads for jobs? Depressed by the same? You are not ready to start a business!
  • The understanding that you are starting a business not because no company will have you, but because it is the only thing in the world you can do -- even if you had a job offer for $1 million a year.
  • The ability and willingness to work harder than you ever have in your life, for a long, long time.
  • The complete support of your immediate family (woe to her who starts a business without the support of her husband or partner, and even of her children).
  • A business network that is activated and large.
  • At least several years of back-up saving.

If you don't have those things and more, I say you're taking undue risk in starting a business. If you really want a job, get some coaching that can show you how to shake up your job search and get it done.  Clate, please don't be mad at me. The rest of you,  join the discussion.

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