For the Times, They are a Changing

“For the times, they are a changing.” This Bob Dylan song title is only meant to reflect how quickly our times have changed with the advent of technology and a global economy. Jobs that existed for decades have become obsolete. But in its place, new jobs have been created as have new opportunities.

It is important to note that there are successful companies that started in uncertain times. In fact, some of the best ideas for a company often arise out of a bad economy. Some of the most successful companies have been started during economic downturns. Examples include Hewlett-Packard, which was started in a garage during the economic downturn of 1939, Microsoft, founded during the recession in mid-1970, Apple Computer in 1976 and Cisco, which was started in 1983 in the living room of Len Bosack and Sandra Lerner.

Uncertain times can refer to today’s business climate or it can be more personal and refer to your own specific uncertainty. Take the company I work for. When the owner started it, he had just left one of the largest internet companies after they decided to shutter their regional offices. Definitely a period of uncertain times. But, with a generous exit package, he decided to take that money and invest it in starting his own company. He recognized a need within the internet advertising industry and felt with his experience, he could potentially tap into the early stages of this potentially growing field. Fast forward eight years later and the company employs over 300 individuals.

That is the true American dream. It is often stated that small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Expected to play an even more important role in our nation’s economic future, small businesses, those employing fewer than 500 employees, create jobs which in turn stimulates our economic growth. They bring innovation to our marketplace by bringing new products to the market and providing valuable services.

So much so that on September 27, 2010, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act. Some of the provisions are extensions or increases in small business benefits that had been previously signed. But there are other newer aspects to this act as well including a $30 Billion Small Business Lending Fund: The bill would establish a new $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund which – by providing capital to small banks with incentives to increase small business lending – could support several multiples of that amount in new credit.

Another aspect to this Act is an initiative to strengthen innovative state small business programs. The bill will support at least $15 billion in small business lending through a new State Small Business Credit Initiative, strengthening state small business programs that leverage private-sector lenders to extend additional credit – many of which have been forced to cut back due to budget cuts.

For individuals who were employed through large companies and may have experienced a layoff, perhaps the time is right to take your experience and knowledge and start your own company. The key is to be able to identify what the market is looking for and find a way to meet those needs. There is nothing wrong with starting a business in your own home to keep expenses at a minimal. But do your research. Talk with others in the field. Attend trade shows and find a mentor.

Additionally, make certain you educate yourself on how to run a business. When the owner of our company started, his background was purely sales and marketing. An intelligent man in his own right, he had no idea that he would need to learn and understand payroll, tax laws, human resources, legal matters and insurance. He knew sales forecasting and certainly was familiar with contracts but as the company grew, he was faced with having to spend a lot of time learning these other areas relating to business.

An understanding of a broad range of disciplines is often necessary if one is to succeed in running a business. It is for this very reason that getting a bachelor’s in business or even a bachelor’s in entrepreneurship, followed by an MBA program, may be just what you need. An MBA teaches many different business skills including:

The bottom line is that anyone can turn a tough situation into something positive. We live in a time where change is happening at lightening speed. And while it is daunting to see jobs becoming obsolete, it is equally as exciting to see some of the new jobs being created. Our country is often referred to as the Land of Opportunity for good reason. “For the times they are a changing, “so why not look at change as something good?

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