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Attention Plan B Entrepreneurs: Line for Plan C Starts Here

Posted on June 22, 2009 by Tim

Over at GigaOm, Stacey Higginbotham digested some data showing that the Gordian Project is in the minority.  Apparently, "the demographic with the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity consists of those between the ages of 55 and 64, according to a study released today by the The Kauffman Foundation. The study found that folks in the 20-34 age range were the least likely to start companies."  As a majority of our founders, including myself, represent the latter class, we're glad to carry the torch for the "tweens" of entrepreneurs.  Nonetheless, as we age, given our unquenchable desire to build creative solutions, I predict that we'll climb into the ranks of majority, venture after venture.  True entrepreneurs are built to build, over and over again, regardless of demographic.

The author of the study, Dane Stangler, also a senior analyst at the Kauffman Foundation, posits that “Recent economic trends—away from lifetime jobs and toward more and more new companies—will thus gain even greater cultural traction".  Considering Stangler's predictions moving forward, Stacey fears that we're headed toward an era of forced entrepreneurship and wonders how much of this entrepreneurial activity is voluntary versus carried out by those who have headed out on their own after buyouts or layoffs.

If a healthy percentage of this activity is being orchestrated by those who had no other options, for the sole reason that they had no other options, it will, no doubt, be interesting to watch the outcome.  Although successful startups have emanated from founders who were forced into entrepreneurship when the absence of opportunities eliminated other avenues, I doubt it's the norm.  Moreover, for the "plan b" entrepreneurs who are successful, a strong argument could be presented that they were likely entrepreneurs at heart who had yet to realize their passion or been given the opportunity to do so.  By and large, entrepreneurship is difficult, daunting and daring, and successful entrepreneurship requires founders with brains, brawn, and bellies with an iron stomach (as well as the ability to integrate clever, albeit unnecessary, alliteration, at will).  Building a successful enterprise, although not impossible with a bunch of luck, isn't likely if the only motivating force is the fact that there isn't anything else to do.

Although I don't discourage these "plan b" entrepreneurs from joining our ranks, regardless of what demographic they fall in, I warn that entrepreneurship is incredibly challenging and admonish that if success is to be given a fighting chance, it will be in the wake of promoting "plan b" to "plan a".  Those who remain "plan b" entrepreneurs should have a "plan c" at the ready ...


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