Women, Laid-off Execs Turn Away From Job-Hunting To Start Their Own Businesses

By Carrie Mason-Draffen

The demographics of Long Island’s entrepreneurs are evolving.

The challenging job market has left increasing numbers of workers who have lost high-paying jobs unable to find comparable positions.

These workers have responded by launching consulting businesses — sometimes in fields related to their careers, such as finance and technology, and sometimes in new fields they feel attracted to, such as healthy lifestyles.

Another change in Long Island’s entrepreneurial culture, as in the nation at large, is that the ranks of small-business owners who are women have been growing faster than the ranks of men.

Both of these groups break the mold of entrepreneurs on Long Island.

The Long Island chapter of the business advisory group Service Corps of Retired Executives once typically counseled nonexecutives or retired civil service workers who sought guidance on opening garden-variety businesses such as candy stores or laundromats, said Barry Klein, the Hauppauge-based chairman of SCORE’s local operation.

After the recession, growing numbers of laid-off workers, including some who had six-figure incomes, visited SCORE’s offices seeking advice on how to start a business, Klein said.

Often they sought to establish a consulting business in their areas of expertise, such as technology or finance. One “outlier,” a laid-off marketing vice president from a Fortune 500 company, even decided to return to house painting, Klein said, work he performed while in college.

“The significant change was we now had these people who had significant experience in corporate life,” he said. “When they accepted the reality that they were probably unable to secure a position commensurate with their salary level and experience, they decided they would try to go into business.”

And at the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College, the growth in the number of women seeking counsel and technical support in starting a business has been faster than the growth in men.

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