Let’s play a game.
Next time you go out, I want you to count all the “help wanted” and “now hiring” signs you see. Once you start paying attention, it will probably look like EVERY. SINGLE. BUSINESS. is hiring (and then you’ll lose count and start shouting out the signs like you’re playing the license plate game on a cross-country road trip). So why —if you can take your pick of pretty much any job— do we think NOW is the perfect time to start a small business?
Because the pandemic has irreversibly changed us mere mortals... but it hasn’t changed our corporate overlords.
Just look at this headline from Business Insider: “Location-based pay is the newest conflict between workers and employers, as remote Googlers face a 25% salary cut”
That’s right folks.
After nearly 2 years of surviving a global pandemic, how does Google —worth over $1 TRILLION dollars btw— repay its employees? With a whopping 25% pay cut, which is like getting taxed again!
And so, understandably, employees are standing up, dawning Twisted Sister makeup, and singing:
"We're not gonna take it. Oh no, we ain't gonna take it. We're not gonna take it anymore!"
After a record-breaking 4 MILLION people left their jobs in the month of April alone, the press dubbed it “The Great Resignation” .
But, it’s not just pandemic burnout and corporate greed edging people out of work. This crisis has led us to collectively reassess what matters, to realize that work and life need a lot of re-balancing, and to go after something more fulfilling.
“Too often ... we wait until someone else gives us the chance. But in today’s economy, you can make your own chances.”
— Ash Ambirge, author The Middle Finger Project
The good news?
In 2020, Americans submitted more than 4.3 million new business applications —the highest number recorded, according to the Census Bureau (and 2021 is on track to beat that).
Here are 7:
Numero uno on just about everyone’s list is FREEDOM (please, oh please, when you read that let it be in the voice of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart) . This is about taking back control of your destiny. You are no longer a replaceable cog in a corporate machine, scheming to either “climb the corporate ladder” or to slip below the radar for 40 years until you can (fingers-crossed) retire and finally start living your life.
Oh no, no. Because, as your 4.3 million peers have proven, you CAN start a small business. And that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to quit your job tomorrow. But it does mean that you take back the steering wheel of your life and start driving in the direction that you actually want to go. Plus any extra cash you make from moonlighting will only help to hasten your eventual dramatic departure —”FREEDOM!”.
You know that elusive thing influencers on Instagram call “work-life balance”? Yes, while they post pics of their $7 pistachio milk lattes and give life advice wearing silky dressing gowns (and YOU only know this because you’re scrolling Instagram yet again looking for a dopamine lift to get you through the daily grind).
Our collective craving for flexibility (i.e. OWNERSHIP over our time) is so severe that, “to remain remote, employees are ready to give up benefits, PTO, & salary”, according to a survey of 1000 Americans.
But you should NOT have to barter with your boss to earn even less just so you can have more flexibility. Start a small business. Give yourself the job you want.
The third reason-slash-benefit of starting your own small business is to do work that you feel good about. Not the nose-to-the-grindstone, hard-work kind, but the work that you are uniquely positioned to serve the world with. You may prefer to think of it as your passion or purpose or simply "that flow state". But it really comes down to fulfillment. You want to ease into bed each night with the kind of contented exhaustion that comes from using your talents and abilities to the fullest —for doing work that matters.
"Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.”
—Tony Hsieh, author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
That may seem like trite advice but, the truth is, starting a small business isn’t easy and, your "overnight success", is almost always at least 3-5 years in the making. That’s why it’s critical that you chase the passion or the purpose... and not the money. Because fulfillment will keep you motivated long enough to see success. Plus, when you care and you show up passionately, other people will care, too.
Whether it’s about self-expression, challenging yourself to master a craft, creating a beautifully functional product, or innovating with something entirely new… creativity is an inherent human characteristic.
Think about the life you want to create, the change you want to create for your customers, and the types of products you’d love to create.
As Steve Jobs taught us, creativity can translate to a trillion dollar company with the right team (even if they do decide to change the damn cable ports every 3 years).
Ever heard the phrase, “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”? While not scientifically proven, I know from experience that surrounding myself with other creative and driven people gives me a lust for work that just isn’t there with those mild-mannered co-workers.
When you start a small business, you have to start creating connections. Some may call this “networking” but it’s more than that. It’s about intentionally surrounding yourself with the people that inspire you to be your best —from peer business owners to the people you hire and the customers you attract. It’s your choice.
Not quite the same as “connections”, community in this sense refers to both the local community and any other communities you identify with. Because our communities need small businesses. They make a town unique, give neighborhoods their charm, and bolster the local economy (waaaay more than a Walmart ever will, trust me).
“So many young people complain about their hometowns (been there); complain that there’s nothing there. There’s no ice cream stand, anymore. There’s no co-working space. There’s certainly no radio show, or advertising studio, or web design company. We need you to create. We need you to give yourself the job.”
—Ash Ambirge, dropper-of-motivational-truth-bombs
What contribution do you want to make to the world? What legacy do you want to leave? Your contribution to the larger collective is the ripple effect of your work. And, when you start a small business, that ripple effect can be BIG.
The key is to stop following all the external “shoulds” and start following your inner voice. When that happens, you create something truly special in a way that only you can.
Elle Luna, author of The Crossroads of Should and Must, described it as following your calling. It’s “...when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own [....] we are listening to our calling from within...”
What's holding most people back?
Ironically, “money” and “time” are the most oft-cited reasons for not taking action (even though freedom and flexibility are the two biggest benefits of starting a business).
But, I think what it really comes down to are these 4 dream-crushers:
Even with the fear, the inertia, the mind games we play with ourselves, and limited resources… the internet has made it easier and more affordable than ever to start a business —not a giant VC-funded startup but a small business. You can do it. Take this inspiring(?) advice from Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek:
“The stars will never align, and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it [now] and course-correct along the way.”
Now is the time to go after your dream. Because, in doing so, you’ll not only change your own life, you’ll show others that it’s possible, and you’ll improve your local community (even if you have an online business).
Americans want to support more small businesses. According to a survey by NEXT insurance, 8 out of 10 respondents prefer to support local small businesses. So why not let that small business be you? You don’t need a million-dollar-idea right now, just a way to help other people that you can offer as a product or service. Start small.
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