Entrepreneurs are in the Driver’s Seat

OK, first let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: the recession. We’re in one. It’s frustrating and sometimes scary. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the real issue: you.

You are where you are today because of your choices. Sure, recessions, layoffs and stock tumbles have happened before and will happen again. Jobs end. Recessions come and go. Life happens. And it isn’t always easy. But what you must understand if you want to thrive while everyone else around you is floundering is that you have choices and those choices create your reality.

Mel Robbins, nationally syndicated radio host, calls attention to the recession mindset. “Maybe it’s the words: recession, depression, collapse, layoff. They’re very powerful words,” Robbins says. “Powerfully depressing. And we hear them all day long. They dominate the news.” But there is some good news. Changing your recession mindset is a matter of choice. “If you have the right mindset, it simply doesn’t matter what the market does,” Robbins says.

Waiting for the nation’s financial health to improve before your financial health improves is folly. You determine where you are in life, not the government or the stock market or the boss of a company you don’t own. As Robbins says, “Your mindset controls everything.” You are the one with the power to change your financial health and now is the time to change it.

What’s the Solution?

If you’re ready to turn around that recession mindset and make a choice to prosper, you’ve got to consider your options. Get another job? Find a risk-free investment? Borrow money from family? None of these sound very promising.

The bottom line is that if you want to take control of your income during a recession, you have to take control of your income source. As Jack Welch, business guru and former chairman and CEO of General Electric, says, “Control your own destiny or someone else will.” People who control their income sources are entrepreneurs who, just like you, decided to stop opting out of their fi nancial choices and take control of their destinies.

Robert Kiyosaki, best-selling author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad book series, says entrepreneurs who break away from typical jobs and create their own sources of income are in the best position to weather an economic storm. They aren’t dependent upon a boss or the economy to determine their annual income. They determine it.

Statistics prove Kiyosaki right. A U.S. Federal Reserve survey shows the average household net worth for entrepreneurs is five-times more than that of the traditionally employed. What that means in this economy is business owners are five-times more likely to come out of the recession in the black because they created income in their own businesses.

In a White House event in March, President Obama said, “Our recovery in the present and our prosperity in the future depend upon the success of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

He said small businesses are responsible for half of all private-sector jobs, creating nearly 70 percent of all new jobs in the last 10 years. “So small businesses are not only job generators, they’re also at the heart of the American Dream,” Obama said. “After all, these are businesses born in family meetings around kitchen tables. They’re born when a worker takes a chance on her desire to be her own boss. They’re born when a part-time inventor becomes a full-time entrepreneur, or when somebody sees a product that could be better or a service that could be smarter, and they think, ‘Well, why not me? Let me try it. Let me take my shot.’ ”

So why wait to take your shot? Being an entrepreneur, especially at this crucial time in our history, is not only a choice for your prosperity but a choice for the country’s as well.

Why Now?

But isn’t becoming an entrepreneur right now too risky? No. The truth is that starting a business carries risk no matter when you make the leap. The conditions during a recession may actually make entrepreneurship a safer bet. In fact, according to an article in USA Today, recessions are often the best times to start a business.

In a recent survey by the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to entrepreneurship, most U.S. voters view entrepreneurship as the key to solving the current economic crisis. “History has repeatedly demonstrated that new companies and entrepreneurship are the way to bolster a flagging economy,” says Carl Schramm, Kauffman’s president and CEO.

So just for a moment, let’s take a look at the economic facts—not to dwell on what you already know, but to illustrate how even in the worst financial times there is opportunity for growth.

The United States has been in a recession since December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. And the Congressional Budget Office anticipates this current recession will most likely be the longest since World War II, exceeding the recessions of 1973-1975, 1981-1982 and 1990-1991.

Executives, middle managers, administrative employees and blue-collar workers are all at risk. Even the healthcare industry, until recently considered a safe zone, is trimming areas of its workforce. And companies that aren’t cutting jobs are cutting benefits, from retirement funds to healthcare coverage.

Does it really make sense to bet on a traditional job when job security is so clearly a thing of the past? World-renowned economist Paul Zane Pilzer has seen a dramatic shift in mentality for many workers. The conventional career structure is being replaced, he says, with a new, entrepreneurial mindset: “The traditional wisdom in the second half of the 20th century was this: Go to school, get a good education and go to work for a large company. The idea of going into business for yourself was most often regarded as risky. Admirable, perhaps, but risky… and maybe a little crazy. Today, it’s completely the other way around.”

If the idea of becoming your own boss and taking control of your income appeals to you, but you’re not sure if it’s the right time, again, consider some facts.

“Our recovery in the present and our prosperity in the future depend upon the success of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs.” —President Barack Obama

1. A huge influx of unemployed means the talent pool is flooded with skilled, willing workers. A devaluation of consumer goods has made supplies cheaper. And, of course, we all know there has never been a better time to invest in real estate. If your company is based out of your home, you have plentiful tax benefits, including tax-deferred savings and multiple deductions.

2. New Web tools make starting a business and making it into a global enterprise easier and more financially feasible than ever. Simple Web design templates and blogs allow an entrepreneur to have a Web presence in no time. Social networking sites provide endless opportunities for marketing, networking and support from other professionals in your industry.

3. As your own boss, your income isn’t based on a salary cap or an education requirement; it’s based on your activity level, on how much you’re willing to put into your new business. Plus, the freedom and flexibility to work where you want, when you want are priceless.

Where to Start

If you’ve been spending hours lately figuring out ways to save money, why not spend that time instead on figuring out ways to earn it? There are countless small- business opportunities, depending on your industry, your interests and your investment.

“It’s a lot easier to start a business today than it was when I started more than 30 years ago,” wrote Gladys Edmunds in a USA Today column in April. Edmunds, author of There’s No Business Like Your Own Business, is the founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh. “Today’s startup entrepreneur has better access to what it takes to succeed.”

Pilzer agrees: “The greatest opportunities today are to go into business for yourself as an entrepreneur.”

“The greatest opportunities today are to go into business for yourself as an entrepreneur.” —Paul Zane Pilzer

Why Wait?

“Can you imagine the possibilities for yourself, in your business and your home, if you could become excited by the opportunities created by this recession?” Mel Robbins asks. “How different would your life be? What a game changer.”

For most middle-income Americans who still have a job, living paycheck to paycheck has become a way of life. In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Kiyosaki warns of the long-term effects of this kind of lifestyle: “Financial struggle is often directly the result of people working all of their lives for someone else. Many people will have nothing at the end of their working days.”

We’ve all been affected by the recession in one way or another, so finding a reason to start your own business is as easy as turning on the news. But why not turn off the negative messages and start focusing on your positive plan for the future? When you are in control of your income source and your time investment, your money goes further, your attitude is better and your future is more secure.

As President Obama said, “I want to say… to every American running a small business or hoping to run a small business one day: You deserve a chance. America needs you to have that chance. And as president, I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that you have the opportunity to contribute to your community, to our economy and to the future of the United States of America.”

In their column for BusinessWeek, Jack and Suzy Welch wrote that starting a business now will not only allow you to take control over your income source, but will also give you an advantage over the competition in the near future: “Right now might be the right time to start a business because doing so will position you especially well to enjoy the upside of the eventual recovery. Just think about it. If you start your business now, it will be staffed with smart, energized employees who have learned how to work together to keep costs as low as possible and innovation sky-high. Your company overall will carry no legacy costs. Nor will it bear the monetary and emotional scars of layoffs. You will, in other words, be poised to catch the earliest wave of the turnaround and ride it to the next level. How exciting.”

You’ve always wanted to be your own boss. So what are you waiting for? Stop telling yourself that it’s too late or that you’re underqualified. Stop listening to people who tell you that it’s the wrong time, and instead, pay attention to the experts who say that now is the best time to start a business. With your passion and the willingness to work hard, you can bring your dream to life. Now is the time to take control of your destiny.

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Amy Anderson is the former senior editor of SUCCESS magazine, an Emmy Award-winning writer and founder of Anderson Content Consulting. She helps experts, coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs to discover their truth, write with confidence, and share their stories so they can transform their past into hope for others. Learn more at AmyKAnderson.com and on Facebook.

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