In all likelihood, the dramatic recession of 2008 and 2009 will continue into 2010, and no amount of government intervention is going to provide a cure. Instead, Americans will use their own independent spirit to dig us out of this economic mess through innovation and entrepreneurship. More and more of us are recognizing the iffy status of corporate employment and seeking ways to take ownership of our work life and future. Entrepreneurship is the best path to recovery, whether the startups are independent contractors or fast growing gazelles, or any size in between.
Historically, startups that are considered gazelles account for most of the growth in private sector employment and revenue in the US economy. These companies can be launched in just about any industry but are most commonly found in whatever field is the hottest at the time. In the 1990s, most gazelle firms were high-tech companies on the dotcom highway. Now, the most recent gazelle-like startups are in the petroleum industry. Still, these high impact firms can be developed from just about any viable business idea. The primary factor that sets the gazelles apart from the rest of the startup field is their overall efficiency – they generate for more revenue per employee than either traditional ventures or most other startups.
The average staff size of gazelle companies is around 50, and gazelle firms generally grow to that point very quickly relative to other startups. They typically are responsible for more than 85% of all job growth, though they represent only 2% of all businesses. They tend to be industry innovators that identify and exploit unique market opportunities. They move and change quickly and place significant focus on applying entrepreneurial fundamentals and creative thinking to streamline and revolutionize the way things are done in business.
Of course, not all startups can be gazelles – in fact 98% are not. But smaller startups make significant contributions as well, and the outcome of this recession is likely to see that impact be even greater. Small businesses employ millions, and every startup that begins with the intention for growth will build that security for a few to a few dozen workers. And, most economic development councils provide second-stage loans and grants to help existing businesses grow. Savvy entrepreneurs develop new markets (often international) and drive innovation through better processes of producing and delivering goods and services. In addition, small business owners tend to wield significant political and social power in their communities. Thus, those who join the ranks of entrepreneurship can and do influence the culture and social standards within their communities.
Many long-time cubicle workers will take this opportunity to strike out on their own as independent contractors as well. While these workers are not technically entrepreneurs, they still will be taking control of their work lives and creating a larger class of people willing and able to influence legislation and standards regarding the self-employed. Qualified independent contractors also provide a strong support base for the larger startups – bootstrapping entrepreneurs can use the expertise of the ICs to reduce overhead and achieve specific goals to grow and improve the company.
Whatever role future entrepreneurs seek to fill, they will be crucial to the economic revival of the country and help us regain our competitive edge in the global marketplace. It doesn’t matter where you are or which business you start, just taking the leap into entrepreneurship will have a positive impact overall. No, you aren’t likely to become rich overnight, but the cumulative effect of entrepreneurship across the nation will be the driving force behind rebuilding the economy.

By Laura

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