Why Financial Crisis is Good for Entrepreneurship

Why Financial Crisis is Good for Entrepreneurship

Let me tell you a story about what’s happening right now in Greece, my corner of the world, entrepreneurship-wise.

The situation in Greece is quite bad at the moment. We keep hearing how it’s in ‘critical condition’ and ‘hanging from a thread’. If you’re an entrepreneur running your own business, the blows come one after the other: surging taxes, closing businesses, long periods of unemployment, spending on the decrease…
It’s all a vicious cycle – out of which we still don’t know how to exit.

Unfortunately “we” more or less includes the entire world. It’s a test for the globe’s financial and social structure, which one way or another affects all countries with no exception, even if indirectly.

It’s a test we’ll all have to take.

There’s an upside in all of this. We Greeks – and I expect the rest of the world to follow soon – are finally starting to realize that if we want to make it, it’ll be through our own honest and healthy work, carried out both individually and in teams.

We’re distancing ourselves from traditional institutions, whether the state and its bureaucracy, banks and their often impossible terms or unsustainable sources of support and funding.

Instead we turn to healthier assistance: our local community, online aid in every shape and size, and new, more agile and modern types of investment.

Realizing the need and also the existence of alternative options, more and more of us have decided to take the plunge and become entrepreneurs – if you think about it, it’s the oldest type of job man can do.

In fact, a large fraction turn to online entrepreneurship for good reason. An online business is faster to set up, requires comparatively less starting capital, has an abundance of tools that help you get the work done efficiently, and there’s direct access to the world market.

A recent survey found that online connectivity is one of the last expenses to be cut in Greek households – and I believe it’s because people realize the strength of the online world.

It’s heartening to see architects setting up clothing e-shops for their designs, science grads trying their hand at olive oil e-commerce, IT teachers selling handmade jewelry online, engineers starting an internet business – all to enhance their income or to leave a saturated industry and start anew.

It’s happening in Greece and elsewhere. There’s an imminent financial meltdown, but if that’s not the best way to ‘not let a good crisis go unexploited’, then I don’t know what is.

In short, financial crisis is eventually a good thing. It’s not about the problems we have; it’s about what we’ve been doing wrong. It’s not about money handling gone bad; it’s about how to learn to handle money better. It’s not about how close we’re to economic meltdown; it’s about how far the economic reform we initiate can take us.

It’s a chance for all of us to reassess how we’ve been doing things so far (or how we’ve been letting things happen) and take control of the situation in our hands.

And that can only be a good thing.

Post by Dimitris Athanasiadis

Dimitris Athanasiadis is a freelance social media consultant who has come to terms with the term.

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  1. @Dimitris Athanasiadis,

    Your “It’s not about the problems . . .”, reminds me of the amazing W. Mitchell, ‘Undefeated by a blazing motorcycle accident and a paralyzing plane crash’, (wmitchell.com).

    I first heard Mitchell’s recording, “It’s Not What Happens To You, It’s What You Do About It.”, almost 20 years ago. He continues to inspire me.

    • WM’s story is definitely amazing and inspiring – and the perfect example for thinking ‘if he can do it then so can I’.

      Much as it would be an amazing experience to see WM talk and get inspired by what he’s achieved, – the point is though for everyone – regardless of how bad they ‘ve had it to realise that it’s within their grasp to achieve at least a good part of their goals.

      And that’s the thing about the financial crisis – it covers everyone with the blanket of ‘failure’ also pushing everyone to be better and not give up.

  2. Yes, Financial crisis is one of the major factor of Genocide against tutsis during 100 days and till today.

    Realizing the need and also the existence of alternative options to fight this crisis , right from the aftermath of genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda ,more and more of people here and there have decided to take the first step and became entrepreneurs of genocide against Tutsis .

    if you think about it, it’s the sadiests type of job man can do to make a living because it is evil to make it a a business option.

    Let me tell you a story why Financial Crisis is Good to make people evils. Entrepreneurship
    about what’s happening right now in Rwanda concerning Genocide against Tutsis is one among the scholars in academia in Rwanda around all corner of the world.

    This inspirations came from my observations & comments during the international conference “18 years after the genocide perpetrated aginst Tutsi” theme as “Testimonies and Refletions” .It took place at SERENA Hotel from 5.6 April 2012.

  3. I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” The truth applies, I believe, to man or woman.

    Dimitris, you have made an articulate case for the emerging entrepreneurship and individualism that seems to be occurring. I wonder if there will be a parallel trend towards other types of self-sufficiencies (growing more of our own food, etc.). That would be good for creating a more sustainable planet.

    Whatever happens, when there are huge shifts in society, economic, culture, or politics, there are always huge opportunities. Your piece is very heartening and encouraging that so many are availing themselves of these opportunities.

    • I’m sure there’s a trend building up towards individualism and people trying to make it as much as possible on their own. The growing your own food, cleaning up your neighborhood and so on is already happening to some extent.

      And although this is a step towards better sustainability one can also argue that it also means a lower standard of living – it is hard work living off entirely of your efforts on every level (covering your basic needs, your job, your social responsibility, etc).

      And obviously some things simply cannot be done individually (e.g. health, security, etc) in a society – individualism quickly hits a ceiling.

  4. Dimitry your approach of recognizing the benefits of the financial crisis, especially as it applies to Greece is refreshing! I appreciate your providing a positive perspective on a situation which many people are choosing to see as doom day prophecy! In Strategic Intervention, we teach clients to resolve issues by changing their perspective and you have certainly done that! I hope that many more people follow in your footsteps!

    • Thanks for your kind words Todd. My perspective and where it all starts from in my mind is actually all about hard work and putting the effort behind your beliefs and/or your duty (where duty can also mean the targets you have set in your work). Incidentally, the financial crisis or a job crisis can act as an excellent lens to enable you to focus your efforts.

  5. Great post Dimitris! I am a little tired of listening to people around me bickering about how things should be changed from the top down – which only makes certain that change won’t happen at all.

    “We Greeks – and I expect the rest of the world to follow soon – are finally starting to realize that if we want to make it, it’ll be through our own honest and healthy work, carried out both individually and in teams.”

    Amen to that!

    • Thanks Jackie, it’s impressive how the views of a suburbanite turned farmer (if I read your site correctly) match that of an suburbanite social media consultant from across the world – esp. how people bicker for top down change instead of taking matter in their own hands.

  6. I think not all business is affected of financial crisis. There are still people who have a good kind of living
    and they even not need to work hard. I’m glad this post could help you define where do you need to focus on. But it’s what we think helps us the most. We all act differently and either way could help someone become better and achieve their goals.

    • Thanks for the comment Becca. One could argue that some amount of hard work is prerequisite for offering something of value. Lack of the former might indicate the existence of a bubble of sorts – even if it’s a bubble that grows too slowly to be noticed or cause any damage in the short term.

      Of course, sometimes hard work has been put in the past (e.g. when studying or when learning the job) so that some years down the road work seems light once you’ve learned the ropes but for the rest of the cases (and they are common) it’s a matter of time before the market rejects those not working hard – i.e. offering something of value.

  7. Recessions are a good thing. They clean out the deadwood competition and force even the strongest businesses to refocus on service and cost cutting. Five years ago competition in my niche in Canada and the US was growing exponentially, creating a crowded field. Since then I’ve watched competitors fade away, the competition growth slow, and businesses such as mine put substantial effort into cost cutting. Heck, I’m spending a good part of this year building systems to reduce costs going forward – which will give me a competitive advantage going forward.

    All we have to do is stick to it. Don’t cut sales or R&D, keep looking for those niches to find business opportunities and hang in there. When things come back – and they will – we’ll all be leaner, stronger and faster.

    And yes, not all businesses are suffering. I have a friend who’s got 400 employees in his company who’s growing and buying up companies like mad.

    • It generally is hard to not be affected by a general financial crisis – if money in the market is not enough for example ripples in nearby industries will eventually reach yours. Having healthy momentum from previous years and strong assets will delay the negative effects but eventually, at the very least growth will be limited.

      Obviously, if we’re talking about a smaller scale crisis, it’s easier to remain unaffected.

  8. Hey D,

    As the saying goes, if you don’t learn from history you’re bound to repeat it. Same here in the US. Check out what our Pilgrims did and how they solved the issue on a smaller scale.

    http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/6580

    Kevin

    • Kevin, thanks for this bit of history lesson, an interesting insight on how human nature works perhaps. If it is indeed about human nature, difference in scale should be irrelevant. I especially liked that pilgrims had problems with peers which were slackers not their investor-bosses who took most of their wealth. The former is a strong driving force for polarisation in Greek society too.

  9. Very interesting read. I coach guitar tutors and one person came to me to learn how to teach guitar because he had just lost his job and needed something to bring in some money. After he got started he realized he loved to teach and couldn’t believe he had never thought about doing it in the past. I guess that’s another potential good thing when times are tough – you may end up finding something new and exciting that you wouldn’t have before. If that person didn’t lose his job he never would have discovered how much he enjoys teaching guitar.
    It just makes me wonder how much people are missing out on now because they don’t ‘need’ to try something else..

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