Three out of four people who start their own business do so because they’re captivated by a vision. They want to be on their own, they want to be their own boss. Opportunity awaits! It’s exhilarating, being an entrepreneur; the ultimate rush.
But wait. What about that other one in four entrepreneurs, the ones who don’t start with a vision of opportunity? How do they get to be entrepreneurs without that drive?
A surprising number of people leap into entrepreneurship not because they want to, but because they have to. They’re driven not by an inner vision, but by circumstance.
As of mid-2104, after years of economic recovery, there are still two seekers for every job opening. That’s not counting part-timer employees who seek full-time work, overqualified workers (like college grads forced to flip burgers), and other people hankering to move up from low-wage jobs.
There’s a remarkable variety of “accidental entrepreneurs” out there. Their ages span half a century, from teens to retired folks. They all have one thing in common: they need to earn, and can’t find a good job.
Take a look around and you’ll see how ordinary folks respond to adverse circumstances by pulling their own bootstraps — and lifting themselves up to new, more exciting possibilities.
James, in his late 50s, was laid off from a project management job in aerospace. He sent out dozens of resumes, then hundreds. Though he really wanted a job, he realized at last that the only one who’d hire him was — James! Woodworking had been his hobby for many years. Thus, he became an ‘accidental entrepreneur’. James began posting on Craigslist and Facebook to build custom kitchen cabinets. “I promised Mercedes quality work at Honda prices,” he says. One project led to another. It took time, but his business grew. Now James is fully booked, and employs an apprentice.
James’ job-hunting experience is common. It’s one reason nearly a quarter of new businesses across the US are launched by people 55 to 64 years old, according to the Census Bureau.
Another age group hit hard by the recession, and still not recovered: recent college graduates, typically 21-24 years old. One in six recent college grads are unemployed or “underemployed”. They work for low pay in a part-time job, or they have a full-time gig that doesn’t require their college degree.
Some grads get fed up with empty-handed job hunts or empty-headed work at low pay. “I couldn’t find a job, so I created one,” says Willy Franzen. After a fruitless job search, Willy became another accidental entrepreneur. He launched a job-hunt website with a difference: it specialized in entry-level jobs and internships — a resource for recent grads. That was seven years ago. His site now attracts thousands of young job-seekers daily.
Oliver Barton lacked the advantage of a college degree. After high school he landed an industrial job, but got laid off after 18 months. “It was very tough,” he recalls. “I was applying for about 100 jobs a week, and I wasn’t getting any replies.” Then Oliver took stock of what he knew how to do. Ever since he was a kid, he’d loved to bake. That was it: he launched Oliver’s Kitchen, making traditional English puddings. Now it’s a growing business.
Accidental entrepreneurs come in all ages and sizes. Ajayl, a 14-year-old Massachusetts teen, couldn’t find a summer job. He applied for lots of jobs but never got a callback. (Sound familiar?) Over the years, though, his mom had taught him to cook, so he started a Facebook business page: he’d hand-make pizzas and deliver them personally. His phone started ringing!
Bottom line? Not every entrepreneur is initially driven by their own compelling vision of opportunity. Some are driven by need, not desire, to be their own boss. But even if you are one of these accidental entrepreneurs, take heart! You have plenty of company, and exciting opportunities await you!
LogoGarden.com founder and president John Williams is a leading logo design expert who literally wrote the book on brand standards for companies like Hewlett-Packard and Mitsubishi. An entrepreneur and former owner of award-winning studio Logic Design, John served as Entrepreneurs.com’s branding columnist for over 5 years and has written for the Kauffman Foundation.