As a frequent listener to the Dave Ramsey show, I have been impressed over the past two years with the attitude he recommends toward the “economic down-turn,” “recession” or whatever this slump officially is… or was… or will be. He tells his listeners, “Just refuse to participate in the recession.” He often fields phone calls on his nationally syndicated radio show from people who tell him, “Dave, we are not participating in the recession.”
Is that unrealistic? Well, he certainly fields plenty of calls from people who have suffered financially over the past couple of years. And he certainly treats their problems as real. But I think there is something to commend his attitude, because even if economists don’t call this a depression – it can be depressing! Getting punched in the stomach by losing a job, getting foreclosed on, or experiencing the other losses that people have been hit with in these times wreaks emotional, not just financial, havoc. And the emotional toll can, in turn, have a devastating effect on your finances.
Fewer things make it more difficult to land a job than an attitude of defeat or dejection. Yet that is what many are feeling. Even people who have jobs are affected by it — by the increased sense of anxiety, even dread, or by emotional sympathy with loved ones or friends who have lost and can’t seem to find work. It’s contagious!
The unemployment rate seems to be hovering close to 10% with no reduction in sight. But let’s consider a couple of things. First that 10% is not all made up of the same people from month to month and year to year. Yes, there are some long-term unemployed, but a lot of people have entered and exited that 10% percent over the months. it is also important to keep in mind that 10% unemployment is 90% employment. And among that 90% employed are people who were unemployed but have found work, people who have not lost jobs during this recession, people who have advanced in their field of work, and people who have struck out and started successful businesses in the past two years.
Start a business in a recession? Yes, it really can be done. In fact, here is a very small, very partial, list of not-so-small companies that started during a recession.
The Jim Henson Company
Wikipedia Foundation Inc.
Sports Illustrated magazine
GE (General Electric Co.)
HP (Hewlett-Packard Development Company LP)
While a job loss can be a kick in the teeth for a lot of people, for some, it is the kick in the pants that gets them out and moving. Over and over again I hear people say, “When I got fired I thought it was the end of the world, but it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me.”
The entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well in this country and is one of the greatest cultural assets of this nation. And while too many companies have had to lay off too many people, other companies are hiring. The best companies harness the entrepreneurial spirit of their employees, giving them a real stake in the corporate future, and allowing them to respond with flexibility and creativity to challenges.
(© 2011 Mary Kochan)