Starting Up During A Recession

Recessions seem to breed startups

There's An Entrepreneur Born Every Minute. Literally. Here's why I'm so sure: For this issue, we asked reporter Stacy Perman to find out if recessions really are particularly fertile times for entrepreneurs. Conventional wisdom holds that during recessions, many of those who are laid off start their own companies rather than find a new job working for someone else. But we'd never seen much evidence to support the theory.

Like much conventional wisdom, it turned out to be partly true and partly not, as Perman explains in her story. Recessions don't produce record numbers of new companies, but they do seem to mark a turning point in the formation of new businesses. In 2001, the most recent recessionary year for which data are available, some 569,750 new companies were launched, or about one every 55 seconds. In 2004, a new company was started about every 49 seconds.

We've profiled five business owners who have emerged from the current recession in a photo essay. All were laid off from their jobs in finance before becoming entrepreneurs. Their companies offer everything from cooking parties for kids to financing for dental work. These trailblazers—along with the more than 600,000 others who have likely joined their ranks since the current recession began—demonstrate that despite the lousy economic situation, there's a whole lot of optimism out there. I hope some of it can also be found at your company.

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