Saturday, February 24, 2007
The renaissance age of entrepreneurship
Look around. Congratulations. You're living in the renaissance age of entrepreneurship.
New tools, new problem solving skills, and new worlds of innovation are exploding like fireworks all around us.
Certainly our ancestors fended for themselves independently, but their options for gaining more freedom and control over their lives was quite limited.
The possibilities available in our commercial lives are rapidly becoming the exact inverse. We can work independently, in ways of our own choosing, while gaining increasing control and freedom in our lives.
Welcome to the renaissance age of entrepreneurship. The world will get better with or without you, but if you want to join the fray, there has never been a better time.
We are awash in new potential for entrepreneurial solutions in every facet of our societies, from high science to brick making to widget manufacturing. Improbably powerful tools are available free or at modest cost. The world is searching for innovative solutions to uncountable numbers of problems. We have access to instant knowledge. We have a shipping/logistics system available on every other corner that I would’ve walked miles uphill in the snow to get to 20 years ago.
Importantly, there is a real wisdom emerging about appropriate tools for financing new and emerging enterprises. From our newest Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and the wonderful Grameen Bank through community investments through green tech funds and all the rest of the traditional routes. There are many more niches on the supply side of financing than there has ever been in the past. This is smart and beneficial, not only at the micro economic level but at the meta level for civilization. The sifting and winnowing process for planting and developing new enterprises is growing up. There are now many efficient and creative new ways to match up the goals of the financing side with the goals of the entrepreneur.
It’s all lining up. Welcome to the renaissance. It’s coming hard and fast from every direction and it’s setting up a cycle of innovation that could drive progress and prosperity around the globe for many decades.
Here’s a nice summary from a recent CNN.com story...
“Almost everyone wants to own a business - from college students, who are signing up for entrepreneurial courses in record numbers; to those over age 65, who are forming more companies every year; to recent immigrants, who in 2005 started 25% more companies per capita than native-born citizens did.”
“We are in the midst of the largest entrepreneurial surge this country has ever seen. According to Small Business Administration projections, nearly 672,000 new companies with employees were created in 2005. That is the biggest business birthrate in U.S. history: 30,000 more startups than in 2004, and 12% more than at the height of dot-com hysteria in 1996.”
There is one miserable-ass phrase out there that you should not accept under any circumstance. I only bring it up because the following very good paragraph was headlined with the phrase I hate - ‘chicken entrepreneurs’ (meaning starting up while holding on to your existing job) – NEVER accept that slur!
However, I digress. The text that followed is inspiring. Here comes the next generation…
“Meanwhile, it has become easier for entrepreneurs to start new companies without quitting their day jobs. According to the SBA, the total number of firms with no employees grew by 26% from 1997 to 2004, to 19 million. A little more than half of those companies are run by workers with another primary source of income.”
Not only that but consider the rolling thunder of the boomers. At our age we’re able to be more engaged and creative than our parents could have ever imagined. We’re pioneering many smart new styles of entrepreneurship and bringing skills and tools to the table based on years of hard won experience.
On top of that, as I’ve said before in an early post, (boomers especially) you gain more personal security by starting your own enterprise. The risk is in NOT starting one.
In support, a nice article from BusinessWeek.com titled, “The Lure of Entrepreneurship Beckons Boomers”
"Baby boomers are looking at starting real businesses—looking for another 10- to 12- to 15-year career, God willing," says Paul Magelli, senior scholar-in-residence at the Kansas City (Mo.)-based Kauffman Foundation, a center promoting entrepreneurship. ‘Just the topic of whether Ford and GM would engage in consolidation talks sends a huge tremor among a huge, experienced workforce—they need to be thinking about opportunities with some kind of income security. It's somewhat subdued, but that anxiety is still very much in the workplace, from the reports we get.’ Entrepreneurship is, somewhat surprisingly, increasingly seen as a stable way to ensure financial security, Magelli says."
The story continues with a note about the amazingly high percentage of self employed folks over 50 who are starting enterprises, as well as the next group rising to the common sense of entrepreneurship.
“About one in three self-employed workers ages 51 to 69 made the transition to self-employment at or after age 50, according to a 2003 AARP Baby Boomers Study, and 15% of the 1,200 adults between 38 and 57 who were surveyed planned to start their own businesses.”
The renaissance is here for all of us, for boomers, for young people and everyone in between. There is no alchemy involved in starting new enterprises. The opportunities are everywhere. The tools for executing are cheap, and often free.
What you most need is common sense, viable planning and the gumption to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The magic comes as you watch your new enterprise take its first steps, then build momentum, then take flight.
I wish you all the best.
BusinessWeek.com story on boomers and start ups
The Kauffman Foundation
Paul Magelli info at The Kauffman Foundation