Two drivers behind “The Great Resignation” have been unhappiness and boldness – people thinking they can find a more fulfilling job at a different company, or a new career altogether, and then going for it.
One example is the surge in new entrepreneurs. The pandemic has brought out a record number of them. And a high percentage of those who recently quit their jobs say they’re planning to start their own business.
Yet others who consider being their own boss hesitate, and one reason is age. Are they too old, or too young and inexperienced, to start and run a new business or buy and operate an existing company? These are valid questions, but the current economic climate is favorable for entrepreneurship no matter one’s age, says Stuart Robles, co-author of The New World of Entrepreneurship: Insiders’ Guide to Buying and Selling Your Own Business in the Digital Age.
“With the great economic reset from the pandemic working its way through the American economic system, there have been many losers and some big winners along the way,” Robles says. “But the biggest winners will be those individuals who step into the entrepreneurial ring in 2022.
“This includes hard-working Americans in the middle. Now is their time. There are historic opportunities for those poised to start a business or become partners in one. Tremendous amounts of money are available – in venture capital and other investment vehicles. Chaos has created disruption and new niches for businesses. The markets are overheated and returns are unpredictable with interest rates rising next year. So a great place folks can put their money is in private businesses.”
Robles cautions, however, that historically failure rates for new businesses are high, and learning how to navigate the sometimes rough waters is essential to success. He offers these tips for first-time entrepreneurs:
- Bring the bucks to match your boldness. Without sufficient growth capital, promising plans for start-ups or initiatives for existing companies die on the launching pad. “Many first-time buyers or start-up entrepreneurs do not consider the follow-on cash needed to propel the business,” Robles says. “A start-up needs a long runway to profitability because it has no existing sales. You must examine your reserves, understand your limitations, and avoid signing up for debt you cannot pay back.”
- Be sly like a fox. Robles says the best start-up operators are “the slyest foxes in the forest,” attracting executives of influence in the sector and trolling through their connections. “These are absolutely key undertakings in your quest,” he says. “The experienced players involved in start-ups admire those founders who whittle and cajole others to do their bidding for no apparent up-front compensation.”
- Be ready for long hours. The pace, demands, and hours required of a business owner necessitate honest self-reflection before taking the leap, Robles says. “You really have to critique yourself physically for the rigors ahead,” he says. “We often recommend a physical exam before an acquisition to fully evaluate your health. Find time to get away and exercise. And having a smooth life on the home front, with no static for your long absences, is a must for longevity.”
- Be a storyteller. Robles says the message you convey about your business should combine passion and uniqueness so it connects with people. “Learn to turn your dull widget into a fascinating oracle of the industry,” Robles says. “Show the fire and enthusiasm that will be welcomed by the established players. They can cut years off your learning curve and provide contacts and vendors that you would stumble past in your ignorance.”
- Don’t give away too much too soon on social media. Announcing to the world your intentions right out of the gate is not a good idea, Robles says, because rivals will intervene. “Better to let them eye you with wary but benign interest and not try to block you before you’ve hardly advanced the ball,” Robles says. “Until your strategy starts impacting the marketplace, keep your plans to yourself and your key players. Social media posts and press releases pushed through paid wire services are most often read by your competitors rather than your customers.”
“Every seven to 10 years, America faces an economic crisis, but these jolts set the stage for innovation and profits for new entrepreneurs,” Robles says. “Now is one of those times.”
Stuart Robles is co-author, with Rod Robertson, of The New World of Entrepreneurship: Insiders’ Guide to Buying and Selling Your Own Business in the Digital Age. Robles is a partner at Briggs Capital, a Boston-based mergers and acquisitions firm that serves small to medium-sized businesses. He has done business in over 20 countries. Robles formerly owned a call center in Central America that he helped grow to 950 employees before exiting and moving into worldwide business development. He earned his BBA in marketing and international business at the University of Texas, his MBA at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, and is a former instructor for the University of Texas Professional Development Center.