VIDEO: Rise in Entrepreneurship in a Down Economy

March 5, 2010  

By Courtney O’Callaghan
cocallagha@smu.edu

With job markets at all time lows, more people are creating their own jobs. According to the reports of Challenger Gray and Christmas’ quarterly job market index, the percentage of job seekers starting their own business has doubled from 4.6 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009.

On a rainy Monday morning at eight a.m, many are on the fast DART track to their corporate offices. For two women from Austin, this corporate life just wasn’t their cup of tea.

Rita Davis traded her downtown office to open an uptown coffee shop– The Pearl Cup Espresso Bar on North Henderson.

“Working that hard for someone else you take on the idea that surely I can do this for myself,” she said. Davis used to work in corporate wellness sales.

She and her business partner Carlene transferred the daily grind of the corporate office to the coffee machine despite the down economy.

Entrepreneur mentor as well as small business owner Pat Kriska attributes the rise in entrepreneurship to multiple reasons, including that “people see opportunities even in poor economic times… they see some need that’s not being met,” Kriska said.

For Davis it was pure nerve.

“I sold a car, liquidated retirement, sold properties,” Davis said. “Since we worked on a business plan for so long we knew it was going to be bad but it was going to get better.”

While a risky endeavor to pursue, small businesses are a large part of the job market.

Kriska said “the general public is even more accepting when there seems to be so much turmoil in the corporate world… The person that starts his or her own business is still the American hero.”

Although sometimes a struggle, Davis said, “Other than my passion for coffee and culture I love people and I want to do it on my own terms…. If I’m not smiling on my ride over, when I walk in it’s automatic.”

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