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The Accidental Entrepreneur

With unemployment approaching ten percent, many unemployed people are wondering what to do. No matter how young and well educated you might be, job fairs and application lines seem crowded with younger and better educated people. Many people are turning their skills into job by starting businesses. These people—those who start a business not because they want to, but because it is the only option for employment—are known as ‘accidental entrepreneurs’.

Accidental entrepreneurs are a unique bunch. First, they have far less funds than other types of small businesspeople, often the amount in their pockets and dwindling bank accounts. This means that they must run incredibly lean operations and rely on mainly free sources for branding.  Second, they are opening shop quickly, using the internet for legal services, logo design, and anything else they can find there. This is due to the high speed and low cost of internet services.

Rather than promote their business ventures with paid advertisement, accidental entrepreneurs must rely on social networking and other free methods to get the word out there. However, in many cases these methods are actually more effective.

The accidental entrepreneur may have one key advantage over their competition: motivation. If making your business work is the only way to save your house or keep out of food stamp lines, you just might try creative options that traditional business owners overlook. Stress can hone the mind and open doors for more creative thinking. Because these people have not been in the business world long, they may have a better than average idea of what consumers are looking for and thus be able to create a more attractive product.

This trend may be good for our economy in the long run. Study after study has found that small businesses are the driver of employment in our nation, creating ninety-five percent of new jobs. The person who could not get a job may end up the employer themselves if they play their cards right.

However, the process of going from unemployed to employer can be a long and arduous one. There has never been a more stressful time to open a business. With this type of entrepreneurship on the rise, more people are competing for an increasingly limited number of small business loans and investors. More important, they are competing for customers, against established small businesses and large corporations that are more cutthroat than ever as well as against the other accidental entrepreneurs out there. The good news is that small businesses seem to survive at roughly the same rate regardless of the economy. Success is possible, but only if you make the right decisions at every turn and create a unique brand that no one else is offering.

Does this sound like a hopeless venture? Accidental entrepreneurship is anything but hopeless. Businesses such as Starbucks, PetSmart, and more than half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list began in a recession or down market. Being an accidental entrepreneur may be scary, but it is one tried and true path to success.