We’ve heard the numbers. For many of us, our family, friends, and colleagues are among the more than 4 million jobs lost since the recession began last year, with more than 1.3 million lost in the first two months of 2009 alone. While many of these displaced workers made finding their next job their primary focus, massive layoffs have also resulted in many people choosing a different option—the path to entrepreneurship.
Some of these new entrepreneurs have taken the leap out of necessity, after a prolonged job search with few prospects offering income opportunities far below their household needs and earning potential. Others welcomed their job loss, and accompanying buyouts and severance packages, as an overdue signal to pursue entrepreneurial dreams too long deferred. Still others are choosing to pursue entrepreneurship as an additional source of income in an effort to create multiple earning streams as a hedge against job market instability.
No matter the motivation, to survive the current recession and thrive in the economic recovery to come, you need an edge. I submit to you that BLACK ENTERPRISE, and specifically the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo (http://blackenterprise.com/beec), is that edge. The conference, slated for May 17-20, in Detroit, is specifically designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, both established and aspiring to face (to paraphrase our conference theme) the new realities, new rules and new opportunities before us. Today’s entrepreneurs will need access to the insights, proven strategies, and the kind of reality checks that only proven business leaders and experts can provide. The Entrepreneurs Conference is engineered to provide all of that and more—in abundance.
You can succeed as a new entrepreneur, but you’ll have to do your homework. You’ll need to pay close attention to everything from your capital requirements (take whatever figure you have in mind and triple it), to staying on top of your financials (get a CPA experienced with small business clients), to managing inventory and targeting the right niche. In addition to attending events such as the Entrepreneurs Conference, you’ll need to stay on top of trends and constantly educate yourself, tapping entrepreneurship classes at your local university and resources such as SCORE (www.score.org).
I am encouraged by President Barack Obama’s $15 billion plan to help small business by eliminating banking fees and boosting access to capital and loans. However, this is not the economy for instant, get-rich-quick success. Nor is this the time for seat-of-the-pants, make-it-up-as-I-go, hope-I-survive entrepreneurship—the economic environment is too competitive, too unforgiving, and the stakes are far too high. Launching a new business in this historically difficult economic environment requires two things in abundance: preparation and patience. It is critical that new entrepreneurs lay a sound foundation for their enterprises, starting with thoroughly researched and well thought out business plans, and access to experienced mentors and advisers. And since the economic recovery may not be realized for at least two more quarters, and even then won’t instantly become apparent, any businesses launched today must be organized for the long haul and built to last.