During times of significant upheaval or economic instability, entrepreneurship booms. The way that we used to do things seems insufficient. The Great Recession brought us Uber, Airbnb, Slack and many more. Businesses founded on a need to connect. A need for technology to help us reach each other better.
The pandemic has been no different. We’ve seen brick-and-mortar businesses forced to adapt and digitise quicker than we thought was possible. We’ve also seen many quit their jobs to go at it alone.
Global Startup Boom
According to Forbes, the number of new startups is up worldwide. In July 2020, the US saw the number of applications for starting a business reach record highs of 551,657, an increase of 95% compared to the same period in 2019. In France, 84,000 new businesses registered in October, a 20% increase from the same month in 2019. Japan reported 10,000 newly registered businesses in September 2020, up by 14% over the same month in 2019.
In the U.K., the number of registered companies increased by 30% year on year in November and December 2020, according to the National Statistical Office. Moreover, startups have grown in double-digit values since June.
Why Now Is the Right Time
At first, these numbers boggle the mind. Why would someone start a business when there is less job security?
As a founder myself, I have a few hypotheses.
Firstly, in the pandemic, away from the thrills of working life that package it up in a nice little bow. Thursday night after work drinks, free snacks and the opportunities to socialise with colleagues. The pandemic revealed to us the bare bones of our work. We had nowhere to hide from the reality of our work. However, fulfilling or unfulfilling it was.
Secondly, there is a sense for many of us that we have nothing to lose. It is because so many people were furloughed, made redundant, or found our jobs increasingly obsolete.
Thirdly, if nothing else, the pandemic has taught us that the status quo is insufficient. Be it on a personal, local or global level. There is a sense that with no opportunity to go “back to normal,” what might a fairer, more sustainable “normal” look like?
It Has Never Been Easier or Flexible to Start Your Business
There’s now a wide range of startup tools and online communities. Indie Hackers, for example, is home to 33,476 indie hackers starting profitable side projects highlighting the visibility of entrepreneurs big and small. It’s a career choice that seems less and less daunting.
It’s flexible. Gone are the days where the expectation is that you work every waking minute on your startup idea. Instead, more and more founders are juggling a full-time job alongside their startup until they get investment or make enough money to survive.
Being a part-time CEO is becoming less and less frowned upon. From Sahil Lavingia, the founder of Gumroad, a self-publishing digital marketplace platform for digital products which has implemented a “no meetings, no deadlines, no full-time employees” culture, to Peter Lievels, founder of Nomadlist, who opts for complete asynchronous communication.
The Downsides of Going at It Alone
I’d be remiss not to add some of the issues in the entrepreneurship world. It’s tough to prevent work creep when you’re so emotionally connected to what you’re trying to achieve. Similarly, hustle culture is prevalent. There is a need to show how hard we are all working at any given moment for the whole world to see.
There are also many ups and downs. There will be times when you simply do not have the energy to keep going, and it’s essential to surround yourself with supportive people who can lift you up.
The lack of security can also be daunting. It’s comforting to be on a clear career ladder and see people a few steps ahead of you to know what’s in store. Being a founder still remains uncertain, but it’s now possible to spend a few hours here and there on your idea until it starts to crystallise and the next steps become a little bit clearer.
If you’re considering leaping, you aren’t alone. According to Microbizmag, when asked, “Do you want to start your own business,” 65% of adults answered yes, and 14% were not sure. Two-thirds of the British workforce as of January 2020 want to start their business, and just over 10% are waiting to be convinced.
About the Author
Naïma Camara is CEO & Founder of Ownership, an app for simple shared ownership. It allows anyone working on a project to log their hours, and our app creates fair ownership based on the hours worked and money invested. The team has spoken to hundreds of early-stage founders and creatives to build all the features they need to get started on a brand new project with a great team.
Naïma has an MA in US History & Politics from UCL and believes her grounding in history and knowledge of the systems of power that govern society allows her to thrive within teams working towards a social good to deploy tech that can achieve real positive change.
Naïma also likes to blog at https://www.naimaella.com