When the going gets tough, the tough go it alone.
During recessions, when other job opportunities dry up, the ranks of the self-employed rise, says Brian Headd, economist at the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA.
Right now, about 12 million people are thinking about or launching a business, says Paul Reynolds, visiting professor at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University.
That's about 5 percent more than in 2008, he says, and it's more than the number of people getting married this year.
It's about as difficult to succeed in your own business as it is to make a marriage work. "After five years, about 49 percent of startups that were launched during recessionary times are still surviving," says Headd.
(The success rate for businesses born in good economic times isn't much higher -- about 52 percent or 53 percent reach a five-year mark.)
Studies show that there's a big link between people who seek out classes or counseling on starting a business and entrepreneurial success, says Reynolds.
Fortunately, there are thousands of places around the country offering free or low-cost help, Reynolds says.
3 agencies to help small businesses
- Small Business Development Centers
- Women's Business Centers
- SCORE, a nonprofit affiliated with the SBA
Anyone who asks a banker for a business loan is likely to be pointed toward help, says Rose Oswald Poels of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. Lenders expect a reasonable business plan before handing over a check, and help constructing a plan is a main offering of entrepreneurial help centers.
Indeed, enthusiastic entrepreneurs can easily overestimate their business savvy. "Bankers want to see a business plan that's no longer than about seven pages, but a lot of people come in here with 100 pages and more," says Sarah Winters, program assistant at the Center for Women & Enterprise based in Boston.