Coronavirus Impact: From Laid-Off Employee to First-Time Entrepreneur
Before you go from unemployed to self-employed, you’ll need a plan
The messages started trickling in at the end of February. They were my first indication that the impact of coronavirus on the economy was going to be worse than bad.
I’ve got a form on my website where any entrepreneur — or anyone interested in starting a business — can ask me questions. Maybe I’ll answer them and maybe I’ll write about them. I get a ton of questions, and I usually get a pretty healthy mix of topics. But beginning in February and into March, one particular type of question kept popping up.
To generalize: “I just got laid off because [coronavirus-related reason]. Should I start my own company?”
I get deluged with this question during every economic downturn, because it’s always easier to dream about starting your own company than it is to dread the drudgery of a job search — especially when there are no jobs.
I totally understand. The at-home CEO chair, the camaraderie of working with people who are invested in your idea, the fulfillment of turning nothing into something — that’s a much brighter picture than sitting in an unfamiliar cubicle doing meaningless work with complete strangers and a horrible new boss.
So when that question comes my way, my general answer is: Probably?
But I’ve seen this happen too many times: A person gets laid off, isn’t desperate, has severance or an emergency fund set aside, and so they jump right into their startup idea. Then they spend weeks, maybe months, endlessly tweaking the infrastructure of the company, or designing a hundred use cases for their product, or networking with anyone who might be interested in talking about their idea.
They wind up doing everything but making something and selling it.
So is the door closing on your job really a window opening on entrepreneurial opportunity? There’s actually a pretty easy answer for this. You just need a plan.
Here are three.