Mar 15, 2022 - Economy

Why there’s never been a better time to start a business

Illustration of a woman's hand holding a lightbulb with a dollar sign for the filament

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There’s never been a better time to start your own company. That helps explain why America just witnessed the biggest business startup boom of our lifetimes, according to the U.S. census.

The big picture: 5.4 million people applied for small businesses licenses last year — a 53% jump from 2019, pre-pandemic. Global investment in startups shattered records in 2021, hitting $643 billion — 10 times what it was 10 years ago.

Why it matters: Most people don't have the luxury of starting their own businesses. For those who do, especially young people, several trends make it more appealing than ever.

  1. Safety net. The job market for college-educated talent is hot, so there's a very viable Plan B if you fail.
  2. Work-from-anywhere. Talent is spreading everywhere — so your ability to find partners and workers is no longer confined to your physical location.
  3. Costs are sinking. Many workers no longer expect an office or a building, so one big cost has vanished. At the same time, you can start websites and leverage cheap open-source technology for prices unthinkably low mere years ago.
  4. Virtual help. Almost any service you need — think accounting, H.R., supplies — is instantly available in the digital world.
  5. Win by losing. Employers yearn for entrepreneurial spirit and so would value your experience if you fail, as most startups do.
  6. Everything’s fair game. Almost everything you see, touch and use is being reinvented in real time, thanks to technology and the pandemic.

Case in point: Here are three COVID-times entrepreneurs who are making it happen.

Nic Bryon, a chef in Tampa Bay, started the meal-kit company Pasta Packs with his brother Greg after the restaurant he worked at closed for COVID lockdown. They started by selling to their friends off Instagram, and have since hired more kitchen staff, expanded to deliveries all over the country and added a storefront.

Ian Oestreich lost his job as a trainer when his Madison, Wisconsin, gym closed. "So I called on my old skills," he says — repairing bikes.

  • Bike shops were overwhelmed at the start of the pandemic — everyone wanted to stay outdoors and active. So Ian started Curbside Bicycles, a pop-up bike repair shop that traveled around Madison and found customers via word of mouth and neighborhood social media groups. He has since expanded to Chicago and Phoenix. The Twin Cities is next.

Esmeralda Jimenez in San Diego went part-time at her job at a property management company to pursue her long-time passion and scale Clementina's Sweets, which she started right before the pandemic. The bakery is named after her grandmother and specializes in Mexican bread and pastries.

  • "When the pandemic hit, I had time to focus," she says. Business has boomed, and she plans to quit her other job soon and hire people to help her: "I know that I’m ready, and I will make it."

Share this tidbit with family and friends: This startup boom is lifting America out of one of the least entrepreneurial periods of its history, the 2010s.

🏁 Editor's note: This article appeared in Axios Finish Line, a new newsletter in the Axios Daily Essentials package.


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