Most Unemployed Too Scared to Start Their Own Biz: Study

The joyfully named consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas has just released a study indicating that while, yes, “the percentage of job seekers starting their own businesses increased by 33 percent in the first half of 2013... less than five percent of managers and executives opted for self-employment.” The diagnosis is that self-employment is seen as “far too risky for most people.”

All this is in light of the fact that loans are getting easier to obtain and that there are, in general, more startups.

So what does this mean?

It means there are far more people with less management experience getting into the startup game. That doesn’t surprise me — it is the impression I get at, say, 1871 and Next Door. It’s exciting but also a bit scary that there are so many more people who are greener taking the leap. It adheres to so many maxims like “nothing risked, nothing gained” and such that it’s exciting, but then there is the fact that there are a lot of people who don’t know what they’re doing, doing it anyway. Is that good? Is it bad? Should we be worried? Can’t it lead to a lot of money lost, a lot of time squandered and a lot of ulcers gained?

Probably. But there’s also the increased possibility someone will capture something truly brilliant and change things in a seismic way. I mean, look at Andrew Mason, who gets a lot of flak, but he wasn’t a manager-level guy when he embarked on what became Groupon. He had always been entrepreneurial, sure (he started a bagel delivery service at 15), but he wasn’t at the pay grade that seems to be reluctant to dive in here.

Unemployment is trending downward (slowly) in Illinois, so maybe it’s just the more experienced folks who are rejoining the standard workforce, and maybe that is actually a good thing: They can help the next Andrew Masons of the world. Everyone just keep on doin’ what you’re doin’, I suppose.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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