A new study from Forrester Consulting, commissioned by security firm Symantec, finds that “leaders of small businesses launched during the Great Recession are dramatically different than those who launched their company prior to 2008,” calling these individuals “accidental entrepreneurs.” The report details the motives, attitudes and technologies of newer independent businesses with 10 to 49 employees formed after 2008 as they compare to those from the 1990s and 1980s.
The study found that 54 percent of business owners approached their company as a growth endeavor rather than a lifestyle or passion, in comparison to 39 percent of businesses who took that approach prior to 2008. More than one-third of the founders of more recent entrepreneurs came from a position at a company where there were more than 500 employees, and 46 percent of newer entrepreneurs expect to double their number of employees in the next two years, growing their revenue more than 10 percent. The report also implies that having a background in larger business results in a more aggressive quest for growth. “Fewer small businesses founded prior to 2008 were as optimistic, with only 12 percent expecting to double employees and 39 percent expecting to grow revenues by more than 10 percent,” the study states.
Technology has accelerated businesses and their owners exponentially since 2008. More recent entrepreneurs “take dramatic and immediate advantage of the cloud,” the study finds. “Twenty-one percent of accidental entrepreneurs have zero servers versus five percent of those founded before the recession. These small businesses trust more applications to the cloud.” Owners are also more adept in making software decisions, with most having a strong preference for known brands whereas the earlier breed of entrepreneur relied heavily on recommendations from value-added resellers. Since 2008, 14 percent more business owners are self-sufficient with software choices.
“This new breed of entrepreneurs were characterized by their optimistic growth projections, their bigger investment in and broader utilization of technology, their marketing prowess and their relative self-sufficiency,” says Tim Harmon, principal analyst with Forrester Research. “In many ways, they act more like an enterprise business than a classical small or medium business.”