We've always heard the "American Dream" is home ownership; preferably in the 'burbs with a picket fence, two car garage and walk-in closets for everyone including the family pet.
That dream has become a nightmare in recent months. Don't even say the "H" word. It might lead to discussions of aggressive lenders, increased foreclosures, lost equity from a rapidly deflating housing bubble and life without endless equity lines used to put in granite counter tops and home theater systems.
Despite all that and the recession, and the price of oil, and the war. and global warming, and entire industries outsourced overseas; the real American Dream is alive and well and thriving.
According to a recent Harris Interactive Poll conducted in part with Yahoo!, two out of three Americans want to start their own business. No matter how bad the economy gets that's not likely to change.
Here's why. You're looking at it; the Internet.
In past economic downturns, eventually the worm turns on smaller businesses too.
I remember back in the mid-80's while coming of age in my home state of Texas that the price of oil dropped from $40 a barrel to $12 a barrel. It took the whole state's economy with it. I lived in Beaumont where oil company workers and managers got laid off in droves.
The first thing that happened, I remember, was small businesses popping up like mushrooms all over town. Recently laid off workers that got a big enough package on the way out the door immediately used it as seed money to start that dream business; opening a baseball card store, a catering company, etc.
Eventually, all those mushrooms withered away. There wasn't much demand for Nolan Ryan rookie cards or catered bbqs in such a depressed local economy. When the last of those packages dried up, so did any hopes of unshackling from "The Man" and getting rich following one's bliss.
That was then, this is now.
I don't think we're going to see the dream die this time around, no matter how bad it gets and it's all because of the Internet.
Key diffrences between now and then due to technology:
1. It costs a lot less to start a business these days, thanks to ecommerce and cheap software solutions that allow small companies to act like big business. Laid off employees going independent don't have to dip into that package as often.
2. New business owners aren't bound to the limits of their own hard hit communities to drum up clients. It's still the world wide web; meaning somewhere out in cyberspace there's a whole customer base waiting for you that lives in places more immune to your specific current economic pain.
3. There are more ways to leverage your current business skills at a consultant's rate. The Internet has taken professional networking and online collaboration to new heights. Iti's easier to make those critical first connections that lead to additional investors and first time customers.
4. It's easier to succeed, because it's easier to know what to do. Need help writing a business plan, putting together that first budget, batting around the seed of a good idea and growing it into something real - voila! It's all a Google away.
Have a great weekend. We'll get back to business on Monday.
- Renee Oricchio