10 Reasons Why Now Is the Best Time to Start Your Business
You've considered running a business but keep wondering whether conditions will be right to support your winning idea. Or perhaps you have been dabbling with something on the side and yet can't convince yourself that it's the right time to make the leap from safety.
There's always risk in starting a business. But the present is a great time to do so. Here are 10 reasons to start your next act and become an entrepreneur now.
Technology has become your pal
A modern business needs technology. Even if you're not creating the next hit app, you'll want customer relationship management, accounting, website and email hosting, and possibly design software or other tools. Cloud computing lets you get needed services on a monthly basis without laying out too much cash at the start. Also, hardware is relatively cheap, so getting an upgraded PC or tablet won't cost a body part or two.
Your current job isn't a path to happiness
Having a career is a fine goal. But placing faith in a job as a way to advance is a poor strategy. As someone recently pointed out, mediocre bosses typically get ahead in corporations because they are the most likely to make "safe" choices. When you work for such a boss and company, you won't get a chance to shine, either, or learn what you need to grow.
Entrepreneurship has been on the decline
As researchers at the Brookings Institution have shown, entrepreneurship has been on a decline in this country for decades. The rate at which new businesses start has fallen below the rate at which they close. The reason isn't exactly clear, but it doesn't have to be. Fewer startups mean less competition for money, people, attention, and customers.
Competitors are your friends
Even as potential competition drops, it hasn't gone away. But that's no matter, either. Competitors help create and enlarge markets, acting as a marketing multiplier and giving credibility to an endeavor. In addition, you can make competitors work for you. Welcome them.
You don't have to risk it all
Worry about risking it all is understandable, particularly if you have people who depend on your ability to bring home a paycheck. But there's no reason to jump into the deep end of the business pool if you don't have the resources for such a gamble. Start your business on the side. Given how so much in communications and human interaction now happen online, it's easier than ever to get a part-time venture going, find a market, close business, and get paid.
You're no longer a sitting duck
The flip side of entrepreneurial risk is the chance you take working for a corporation. When things get bad, and they can without any notice, companies often downsize. Too often people with more experience get booted out the door to be replaced by someone cheaper because a bean-counter assumes that everyone is completely interchangeable. Or maybe you'll hear that the company has reduced benefits or moved your office to another state. At least start developing your business on the side so that you have some options if things turn sour and you become part of this season's staff reductions.
Globalization is your secret friend
Globalization has been brutal on millions of people who became sitting ducks when their jobs were shipped overseas. And yet, the trend does have its upside for businesses of all sizes. There are new sources of products, components, engineering, design, and other resources at lower prices than in the US. Also, there are new markets that offer fresh opportunities.
Lots of help
All those talented and experienced people who now have no jobs because they were sitting ducks have found that new job creation has mostly been in low-paying sectors. That means there are enormous personnel resources waiting for a reasonable opportunity. If you need talent, you can find it.
You're on the right side of regulation
Executives love to bemoan how regulations are "killing" them, even as profits and revenue climb every year. Yes, let the tears flow. The good thing for your startup is that it's much smaller than the cut-off for many regulations, so you can operate more freely even as larger competitors can't. In addition, one of the problems many entrepreneurs face is that the need for health insurance can keep them tethered to a corporate desk. Thanks to the ACA, Obamacare, or whatever you want to call it, you can get insurance and not worry about pre-existing conditions. Paying the entire insurance bill isn't cheap, but you have far more flexibility now.
Waiting won't help
The biggest reason that now is the time is because later almost never is. You can wait yourself into old age and regret, but you don't need to. Even if your business doesn't work, it won't be the end of your life. Many entrepreneurs go through multiple businesses to find the one that works for them. In the words of playwright Samuel Becket: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." But do it now.
ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist
Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.