5 career alternatives for start-up founders during the recession

I remember the recession in the late 80’s all too well when I got kicked out of my first tech job. Now I can’t be made redundant because I own the company. However, we’ve formed our tech start-up just as the recession is getting hold. Hummm, that’s either great or lousy timing.

Are you as tough as old boots?

Some think it’s bad to start now. However many start-up founders including Kevin Rose; Bob Warfeild and Ross Mayfeild say it’s great timing. However the VC’s ain’t quite so positive. The debate and uncertainly goes on and on. I beleive there are five career alternatives for founders like me with new or very early stage start-ups:

1. Do nothing.. Pretend it’s not happening. Bury your head in the sand. Problem is that your current product may not have any demand. By following the same plan you could be throwing your hard earned savings away.

2. Bail-out and go back to work?The trouble is the everyone else is looking for a job and anyway you have turned your back on working for someone else. Plus if you are in sales and marketing, as in my case, it will take a long time to reastablish yourself and by then the recession will probably be over.

3. Bail-out and go on a very long holiday vacation?That sounds nice but it won’t pay the bills and probably will cost alot unless you live in Goa (India) on a few rupee’s a day. Anyway I’ve done that before for a year on a round the world ticket. Today its not an option as I’ve got kids. Plus I’d be bored after a couple of months.

4. Bail-out and give up? Mike Michalowicz wrote a great post on the difference between quiting and failing. So, don’t quit before you have even really tried. Business is still being done out there, it’s just the focus of needs is changing.

5. Stick with it!Yes it’s going to be emotionally tough but it was anyway. Yes your money is going to have to last longer and the VC’s will be hard to convince. And yes the prospects are all going to say NO! However if you have got the right product at the right time with the right prospect they will say YES. I think now is not the time to panic but to see this as an opportunity. Change means opportunity and boy this looks like its going to rain with new opportunities if you look for them.

There is lots of good advice around including Ryan Carson on how to recession-proof yourself and Techcrunch’s The First-Time CEO’s Recession Survival Guide. There is even a new community website for new start-ups in the recession. Now that’s an entrepreneurial idea.

Paul Graham believes its the quaility of the founders that really counts, recession or not. As the saying goes – ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’.


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6 Responses to “5 career alternatives for start-up founders during the recession”

  1. Ronald Cummings-John Says:

    Cool Post. There is one other option Nick. Number (6) Go back to University party it up for three years and come out when the recession is over! 🙂

  2. Nick Barker Says:

    Hi Ronald, Thanks for the comment. An excellent point. Further yourself whilst having some fun. Don’t think I’ll go back though. It’s just too much fun extreme bootstrapping in potentially the deepest recession on record. 😉

  3. Nick Barker Says:

    Hers’s another naysayer: ‘For a Startup the Worst of Times or the Best of Times?’. The funny thing is he works for a start-up.

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