I find it rather interesting that, no longer had I begun to contemplate how many of us would be handling this new transition period coming out of the pandemic (as posited in my previous column; slow and steady vs. full speed ahead!), than several acquaintances of mine shared with me their intentions of diving head-first into new business endeavors that they’d always dreamed of exploring further.

I can’t blame them. The past year was a time of introspection for a large swath of the population, some inheriting the perils of unemployment due to no fault of their own, and others simply taking a step back to evaluate just how satisfied (or not), they were with their existing career choices. Clearly, there is a wave of individuals who have decided that their current situation is worth the risk of stepping away from, and they’ve chosen to do so. Many polls indicate this is true.

Conservative pundit David Brooks, in one of his recent columns appearing in the New York Times, stated: “Millions of Americans endured grievous loss and anxiety during the pandemic, but many also used this time as a preparation period, so they could burst out of the gate when things opened up. After decades of slowing entrepreneurial dynamism, 4.4 million new businesses were started in 2020, by far a modern record.”

Indeed, this trend is also reflected in a recent piece posted on the Visual Capitalist website titled, “Visualizing America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit During Covid-19,” in which author Avery Koop cites new data from the U.S. Census Bureau revealing “that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States, and that new business applications rose over 73 percent from January 2020 to January 2021.”

What I’m particularly impressed with has been the courage shown by those who possess creative talents of one sort or another, choosing to elevate those gifts to a higher level of exposure by ultimately monetizing their efforts through sales. That’s a pretty big leap that requires not only talent, but the confidence to undertake multiple roles in bringing their dreams to fruition.

I’ve spoken with several of these individuals at some length, and each appears to be emerging from the pandemic with a different set of personal circumstances that contributed to their decision, yet interestingly, the common denominator amongst them all was: “Now is the time.” I’d asked if there was any hesitation in taking the proverbial “leap of faith,” and each responded with a resounding “No!”

It had me thinking clearly about my own experience of launching a small business. It was originally intended as a side hustle on weekends, but would later evolve into a full-time endeavor until its demise when the financial crash of 2008 would ultimately seal its fate. I recall quite vividly one of the key motivating factors of that initial undertaking was the exhilaration I’d felt in developing my own brand, and all of the various intricacies involved with that process.

With nearly 20 years experience under my belt working in the field of marketing research, there wasn’t a product I hadn’t tested (from its initial conception phase, all the way to post-consumption), and therefore I felt somewhat comfortable navigating the issues that are typically inherent in the rolling out of merchandise or providing retailers with a new service. Because nearly all of the work I’d conducted in the field up to that point was on behalf of multi-national corporations, it was just a matter of taking many of those large-scale strategies and implementing them on a more localized level.

Cultivating new retailers into long-term clients was by far one of the central tenets to developing a successful small business entity. Long before the advent of social media and the like, in-person communication was a critical component in the advancement of such relationships. It’s probably not an overstatement to say that, due to the ever-increasing presence of technology, this once-prized element of business transactions has become a thing of the past.

Will each of these individuals that I’ve spoken with hit some speed bumps and potholes along the way? The odds are that mostly likely they will, but that’s all part of the journey, isn’t it? If the past year and a half has taught us one thing about ourselves, it’s that life presents us with myriad opportunities for growth and exploration. Hats off to those who’ve recently taken the plunge — I find it rather inspiring, to say the least.

Dave Davis
Dave Davis teaches preschool for the Head Start program based at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, NY. He is also a frequent contributor to “Who Smarted?,” a popular educational podcast for elementary school children.

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