Is now the time to start a business?

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For generations, owning a small business has been the dream of self-starters fed up with working for the man.

But today, small biz gurus say that self-employment is less an entrepreneur’s fantasy than the only sure way to land a job.

“There are certainly people sitting around saying, ‘I have no other option,’” says John Jantsch, author of “Duct Tape Marketing.”

Although they should know that the option isn’t as easy as it was in the past, cautions “Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas” author Jim Blasingame. “When it comes to traditional access to boot-strapping startup money, the major sources dried up in 2008,” he explains.

And nevermind the other source of startup loot for most small businesses: a house. “What banks are going to give you a home equity loan these days?” he reasons.

The good news, Jantsch counters, is that you don’t need the kind of cash you used to.

“In a way there’s never been a better time to start a business, because you can get into some fashion of a business for little or no money,” he says. “The Internet has equipped people with some incredible tools, giving them a reach that’s global. And in that regard, faced with no choice, that can make this a great time to do it.”

The competition

You’ll likely be up against ultralean, price-undercutting companies that survived a recession that only made stronger what it didn’t kill.

“The companies you are going to be competing with have come through the fire,” says Blasingame. “They know what it takes to be competitive, and if they didn’t know, they wouldn’t still be in business. If you delude yourself into thinking you can outprice them, you’re going to fail.”

All about you

Picking the moment for your small business launch may be less about where the economy is than where you are: Are you sufficiently experienced? Are you willing and able to put in 12-hour days for months on end? Do you have the clientele?

“In America, there’s never a time when you should not start a small business, but there might be a time when you’re not prepared,” Jantsch says.


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