Caught the Entrepreneurial Bug? Don’t procrastinate
Jonathan Ortmans, President, Public Forum Institute
If you often find yourself quietly thinking “I know a better way to do this” or “I could create something new that would make this easier for everyone,” you are a potential entrepreneur. Don’t waste that potential. The economy needs you more than ever.
In times of crisis and uncertainty, innovation can be stifled by hesitancy toward risk. Many wait until a worst-case scenario—such as a layoff or corporate bankruptcy—leaves little choice but to finally take a risk. Anecdotes abound these days of “unintentional entrepreneurs” who are following their dreams in this economic recession. In the past, many of these laid-off-turned-entrepreneurs have said that losing their jobs was “the best thing that ever happened” to them.
The world is in much need of creative ideas. Innovation is the engine that powers economic growth, and when an idea sits stagnant, that engine stalls. So, if you have the entrepreneurial bug in you, I urge you to go transform your creative ideas into action. Even if you still have a job or are in school, you can begin the entrepreneurial process. Several research studies report that people who hold full- or part-time jobs are actually more likely to venture into entrepreneurship. This is likely because entrepreneurs spot opportunities when they are facing problems. What distinguishes entrepreneurs is that they can think of innovative solutions where others only see problems. If you are in school, entrepreneurship can be a major component of your education. In fact, many schools have programs to help students launch businesses and provide them with opportunity to develop and practice innovation skills.
You can start by connecting with other budding entrepreneurs, as well as seasoned ones. Striking out on your own does not have to mean going it alone. Despite the stereotype of long hours spent working solo, networking is a huge part of the start-up process. Online communities such as You Noodle connect entrepreneurs from around the world. Or, of course, register for Global Entrepreneurship Week - www.unleashingideas.org - the largest entrepreneurship event in the world now taking place November 16-22 in more than 85 countries concurrently. A visit here or with other like-minded networks is a way of making that first move to turn a great idea into a reality.
Granted, the risks are high. Yet as with all risks, the rewards are big, not just for the visionary entrepreneurs, but also for the economy. FedEx, Genentech, Southwest Airlines and many other success stories started in an economic downturn. Our global economy today needs massive infusions of new ideas and entrepreneurs, with the discipline to examine and develop several of them. These innovators will be the ones who lead the way out of economic uncertainty and toward innovative solutions, job creation and greater prosperity.
Jonathan Ortmans is president of the Public Forum Institute, a non-partisan organization dedicated to fostering dialogue on important policy issues. In this capacity, he leads the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship, focused on public policies to promote entrepreneurship in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, he serves as a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation.