Career and Jobs

The American Dream Is Still Alive And Well: U.S. Started Record-Setting Number Of Businesses During The Pandemic

Americans are a relentless, maverick, rugged and determined bunch of people. While we like complaining and arguing with each other, Americans have this built-in sense of self-determination and grit. We refuse to give up in the face of disaster. Against all odds, we persevere and bravely forge forward, in pursuit of our dreams and goals.

You’d think that with the pandemic raging on for eight months, we’d throw up our hands in despair. Instead, people who are in between jobs continue to diligently search for a new role—knowing full well that the odds are stacked against them.

Another unique American trait has resurfaced. The U.S. has started new businesses at a record-setting rate, in what is being deemed as a “startup boom.” John Haltiwanger, an economist at the University of Maryland, said that within the first two months of the virus outbreak, there was a noticeable rise in new business applications. Working on a project with the government provided him with official data detailing new business formations. He was flabbergasted as he saw the upward trend of new business applications. Haltiwanger pointed out, “The third quarter of 2020 is the highest quarter of applications we’ve ever seen.”

Inc. Magazine, a publisher that covers small emerging businesses, echoed Haltiwanger’s findings and wrote, “Over the past three months, more new businesses were launched in the U.S. than in any quarter in history.” The report showed, “Between June and September, nearly 1.4 million startups were founded.”

When a person loses their job, they have tough choices to make. You can start searching for a new job in your field, try to pivot to a new type of role or reinvent yourself. After a number of months without any luck, you then have to figure out another plan. This could involve becoming an entrepreneur. 

The Covid-19 disease has changed many things. Working from home or remotely anywhere has become standard. Shopping online has been the go-to means of purchasing goods, as people are concerned about interacting with others. Brick and mortar stores, shopping malls, movie theater chains, restaurants, airlines, hotels, bars, clubs, gyms and other sectors have been hit hard. Some have been forced into bankruptcy.

There have been big winners. Zoom, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix and other tech-based companies have fared very well, making their already-rich CEOs even more fabulously wealthy.

Change brings chaos and opportunities. As the way we work and live our lives has been altered, maybe even forever, a large number of people decided to take fate into their own hands and create a new business.

In full disclosure, I’ve started up a business too. I previously launched my executive search firm during a horrific time, in 2001, after Sept.11. Seeing millions of people out of work and having an incredibly hard time finding a new job, it prompted me to start a second business, WeCruitr. The mission is to help equip people with the skills, knowledge and advice to succeed in their job hunt. We also bring people together to be part of an online community, so that they have access to job leads, can learn from others and have people to commiserate with.

We’ve seen this in many industries. As some companies are severely hampered by the disease, others are springing up to fill the void. Zoom skyrocketed in popularity and became ubiquitous, as it served the need to easily connect workers through its video platform. Telemedicine was literally a life saver for people. As we were afraid, particularly during the first number of months of the outbreak, to visit a doctor, people didn’t seek out medical attention. Then, medical professionals, noticing this trend, offered virtual visits, which dramatically changed the way things were done. Peloton, the high-end stationary bicycle maker and subscriptions service, thrived as gyms remained closed and people wanted to exercise and stay healthy. 

The feeling among many people is that they realize big corporations don’t care that much about their employees. They’ll quickly fire them to cut costs. Many workers who hold jobs are deathly afraid of losing them. Taking up a side hustle has become common to have a second stream of income and a way to dip their toes in the entrepreneurial waters. There has also been a rise in people moving into the gig economy, driving Ubers, shopping grocery items for consumers via Instacart, opening up a Shopify store and delivering packages.

Despite all of the doom and gloom, Americans are a hearty group of people who won’t stay knocked down for long. We pick ourselves up, brush off the failures and move on. It used to be only searching for a new job. Now, it’s become socially acceptable to say, “Life is short. No job is really safe.” So, it makes sense to keep all options open and starting up a new business, according to the data, seems like an attractive option to a lot of people. 

The chance to call your own shots, take a risk, not being beholden to a mercurial manager and the exhilaration of trying something new is all part of the American Dream. This shows that we still have it and won’t succumb to the pandemic and will try our best to overcome it and become successful.

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