Economic Disruption Could Fuel Entrepreneurial Spirit In 2019

By Aaron London The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Aaron London takes a look at how an economic downturn in 2019 could affect the state of entrepreneurship.

The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

The new year is usually a time to look ahead with optimism. But with several issues threatening to detail economic growth -- from trade and tariffs to the mess that is Brexit and a volatile U.S. stock market -- business owners are hoping for the best and bracing for the worst.

And that includes entrepreneurs.

While traditionally the entrepreneurial landscape has blossomed during economic downturns, there are a lot of question marks moving forward that could disrupt the best laid plans of would-be disruptors.

"It can go either way," said Ky Ekinci, co-founder of Palm Coast-based Office Divvy and creator of Entrepreneur Night. "If I were to bet my money, I would say it would be a bumpy ride in 2019 for entrepreneurs and existing small businesses."

Ekinci said 2018 was a mixed year for entrepreneurs with "clear signals of a slowdown over the past six months" having an impact across the entrepreneurial spectrum.

"It was the kind of year where we had the best of times and the worst of times, depending on who you are," he said.

"Some suffered and some thrived."

The idea that 2019 could be a less-than-stellar year for entrepreneurs is particularly ominous given the nature of entrepreneurship. Driven by a determination to find a market niche and with the attitude that failure is not a bad thing, entrepreneurs generally do not worry about overarching economic concerns.

"Recessions or slowdowns or turbulence causing job losses are typically a situation where it helps create more entrepreneurs," Ekinci said. "When the job market is tight, you turn inward and say 'Why don't I do my own thing?'"

Still, Ekinci said the entrepreneurial spirit that leads people to take that leap of faith with a good idea or new concept is not blunted by economic ups and downs.

"When somebody goes down that road, regardless of the climate, it's against all odds anyway," he said. "The likely outcome of entrepreneurship is failure, 75 to 80 percent of the time."

The silver lining for entrepreneurs and would-be start-ups is the willingness to fail. Because entrepreneurs seek to "disrupt" traditional business ideas and concepts, the volatility and instability brought by economic uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing.

If an entrepreneur finds that golden mix of the right idea at the right time, economic conditions are less important than for more traditional businesses.

"If you are disrupting something, you are solving a problem," Ekinci said. "There is that 'feel-good' aspect. I think disruptive businesses, whether there is disruption in the economy or not, will always do well."

If that is true, then 2019 could be a pretty good year for entrepreneurs -- in spite or because of -- the challenges that lie ahead.

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