Does ‘Necessity’ Entrepreneurship Even Exist?

We explore alternative reasoning behind a Wall Street Journal study finding.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a story titled ‘Decline in New Businesses Suggests Satisfied Workers,’ commenting on a recent set of small business statistics published by an entrepreneurship advocacy group based out of Kansas City. The piece discusses a key statistic of the report – 476,000 new U.S. businesses started up each month in 2013, down 7% from 2012 and 12% from 2011. The writers use this to then go on and discuss how a reduction in entrepreneurship can indicate greater job satisfaction within the current marketplace and better performance by corporations in remaining responsive to employee needs. This led us to consider, though, the idea of necessity entrepreneurship versus selected entrepreneurship. The two can sometimes be distinguished by those within the entrepreneurial sector ourselves, and then are even more often separated by those evaluating us from the outside. Perhaps, though, there is only a very grey line between those two in reality. The truth, from our perspective, is that there is no such thing as true ‘necessity entrepreneurship.’ While yes, a need for income might exist, the low barriers to entry of today’s technologically-driven world combined with our own frequent exposure to, and interaction with, entrepreneurs in so many facets of our life seem to make the definition of ‘necessity’ very subjective. For many in the co-working world, especially, entrepreneurship today is often driven by a desire to “find a way” or to re-embrace our own quality of life. Countless newly-minted entrepreneurs today would most likely define themselves as open to either alternative, but the fact is, that in their entrepreneurial interim solutions they have tasted the joys of independence and creative freedom. Whether this ‘taste’ transpired out of necessity or quality of life choice is neither here nor there. The fact is that once most have had a breath of that very fresh air they are tending to stay in the space. We did go through a tremendously challenging economic time over the 2008-2012 years, certainly. This led to more layoffs than many of us had ever seen. Furloughs. Mergers. And many more economic challenges here in the US. The fact is, though, that during that same window of time, a new generation of business leaders were emerging. This was the earliest we had seen Gen X rise to a middle-management position in their careers, and that is perhaps the reason for the entrepreneurial peak seen in 2011 and 2012. Today, those Gen X’ers are working comfortably within the safety of their own enterprise or perhaps they opted back in to the corporate ladder for family-building purposes. But yes, the economic cycles leave their mark on entrepreneurial statistics, but we might challenge this position by reminding the reader to consider cultural tides that run in tandem with these economic tides. Entrepreneurship is a financial choice and a lifestyle choice. The merger of the two is where one makes the decision to make that leap – not solely within one sphere.

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