When more than four million workers decided to quit their jobs in October alone--a marginally lower number than the record-setting month that preceded it--I knew that the so-called Great Resignation could no longer be ignored. This wasn't some passing trend but rather a lasting shift that carries big implications for the entire economy. I predict that this shift will cause 2022 to become the year of small business. And to jump the shark, you should resign ...
Those of us who run our own companies should think long and hard about what drove these individuals out the door. Maybe we should manage them differently, offer flexible work environments, and ensure everyone is working toward a common, motivating goal. But we should also support the decision of more than half a million U.S. workers who've become self-employed since the beginning of the pandemic. Ultimately, I believe their departure from the org chart might be society's gain if these enterprising individuals dive into the wonderland of small-business ownership.
Why? Well, we already know the proven benefits of a booming small-business sector. According to the SBA, small businesses make up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms and contribute 64 percent of net new jobs. It's the little people--not the publicly traded corporations--who are more likely to give back to their community. And amid the staggering decline in female employment that we've come to know as the "She-Cession," entrepreneurship is the path forward for women who need (or simply desire) more flexible working conditions.
I have one message this January: If you are considering leaving or have left a job, lean into your passion. Make 2022 your year of small business; start making your dream a reality. Here are three reasons why the entrepreneurial journey might be for you.
1. You want your hard work to mean something and make a difference
At one point or another, most of us have had a job that was little more than a paycheck. You work hard, do as you're told, and head home. That was never enough for me, which is one reason why I pursued entrepreneurship.
The company I started, Hello Alice, is a mission-driven business that helps other small businesses launch and grow, and I'm proud to see my employees practice what we preach with their own side hustles--many of which are mission-driven too.
Consider the story of product manager Jillian Fortin Burtnett. During quarantine, Jillian and her husband, Christopher, began experimenting with open-fire cooking concepts. The serial entrepreneurs quickly realized they were on to something and turned their idea into Char ATX , a food truck that serves chargrilled Texas yakitori to the good people of Austin. Born from a period of profound isolation, the Char ATX team has a mission to build community through food.
"Our 'why' is simple and has been at the forefront of this entire endeavor: family," Jillian told me recently. "And when I say 'family,' I'm not just referring to Christopher and me. I'm referring to everyone who stops by the truck for a meal--because food brings communities together, and everyone we feed becomes family to us."
I bet all of our communities have an unmet need. Do you have what it takes to make a difference?
2. The power to set your schedule is your top priority
Let's say your motivations are not quite so lofty. Would you lead a happier, more fulfilling life if you were simply able to set your own schedule and priorities?
Gen-Z and Millennial workers have made it clear that flexible work arrangements are one of their top priorities; the traditional work environment isn't always suited to those of us with children, as evidenced by the more than three-quarters of a million mothers who have dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic because of a lack of child care.
Maybe it's time to quit your day job and try out consulting. Or maybe you're an accountant who could set up your own independent firm. Being the boss is a lot of work, yes, but you also get to set the ground rules--for yourself, your employees, and the clients you serve. What is this kind of freedom worth? If the answer is "a lot," then the world of entrepreneurship might be the path for you.
3. You see a problem that nobody else has solved
Necessity was the mother of invention and the spark of entrepreneurship for Micki Krimmel, who founded the premium plus-size activewear brand Superfit Hero when her roller derby teammates had trouble finding quality clothing options.
"The main reason mainstream brands keep getting this wrong is because the plus-size customer is not and never will be their core customer," explains Micki. "I believe the plus-size customer deserves the same care and attention that their straight-size counterpart has had."
It's not easy, sure, but it's also not rocket science: If you identify a genuine pain point, you've probably thought of an idea able to achieve product-market fit and growth.
I could go on with even more reasons to take the leap, but if you're looking at the millions who have put in their two-weeks with a bit of jealousy, you probably have some thinking to do. Link up with a mentor to help you get started on the right foot. Validate your business idea by building a minimum viable product and gathering feedback from potential customers.
Remember: You can always get another job, so why not try following your passions? Do it: Resign!