Hard Times Can Be a Gateway to New Beginnings

By Carleigh Lowe Monday, October 12, 2009

One of the best parts of working at Harvard Business Services, Inc. is talking to budding entrepreneurs every day. We are inspired by the passion our clients possess for making their dreams become a reality. Over the years, we have seen that staying optimistic through tough times is a key ingredient to being a successful entrepreneur. We know that these are tough times, but we have noticed a strong, positive trend of people successfully reinventing themselves despite the circumstances. An article in USA Today showcases a few entreprenuers who are turning lemons into lemonade.

Below is an excerpt:

For millions of Americans, the recession has been a curse. For a relative few, it's something more complicated: A catalyst for change. An opportunity to grow. A kick in the butt. In some cases, economic necessity has been the mother of re-invention. It has forced people to pursue careers they might never have considered if they hadn't gotten — or quit before getting — the ax. So a lumber mill worker becomes a nurse, a bus driver turns to welding, a paralegal sets out to sell cosmetics, an interior decorator learns to cook barbecue. Some unpack an old skill, like the piano. Others trade on a personal passion — for people, pets or, in one case, piñatas. Some get help from the government. Others go it alone. Their optimism is based on two convictions: That even in hard times, people still will spend on things like their dogs, their kids and their looks; and that things such as flexible hours, casual dress and a shorter commute are worth a few lost dollars. Above all, they agree that if they hadn't been pushed, they never would have made the leap.

Andrea Kay, author of Life's a Bitch and Then You Change Careers, says many people hang onto jobs they don't like, oblivious to the fact that their unhappiness — which they mistakenly think they can hide — hurts their performance and attitude. "Typically, not until someone is forced out of what they've been accustomed to doing do they feel the need to change," Kay says. It's the same in every economic downturn, says David Kyvig, a Northern Illinois University historian who wrote Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: "When things are going well, we tend to stay with what's working. When they don't, we explore something new."

In a surprising number of cases, we're happier — "if, after the shock, anger and fear, someone is willing to see there's an opportunity to do something different," Kay says. "Then they ask, 'Why did I wait so long?' " Research indicates that workers who change jobs generally are more satisfied in their new positions than their old ones, even though they often take cuts in salary and benefits, AARP economist Sara Rix says. In this recession, "I don't want to whitewash things — some people barely scrape by," she says. "But there are success stories. They give other people encouragement that there is something out there."

Let us know your recession success story in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

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