According to Google’s most recent report, 2021 was the year that the world searched the phrase “how to start a business” more than “how to get a job” for the first time. The pandemic closed businesses and sent workers home, but many are making the leave permanent, opting for entrepreneurship even as traditional office opportunities reopen. Add in the ease of technology and expanding availability of economic opportunities, and people are feeling more confident than ever to take the risk and start their own businesses. Rather than a return to the past, we should all expect this trajectory to introduce a new normal. Here’s why:
Record Rates Are Making History
After pandemic layoffs made even salaried positions seem risky, people are voluntarily choosing to leave formerly stable jobs for entrepreneurship at historic levels. While job openings are hitting record highs, the employee quit rate has gone from 1.6 percent in April 2020 to a record three percent in September 2021, and steady months of similar quit rates at the close of the year show little signs of change. At the same time, the number of independent workers skyrocketed from 38 to 51 million, and a record-breaking 1.4 million applications were filed to form new businesses likely to hire employees.
At record rates, people are also discovering the untapped joy, passion, and purpose of owning their own business. Yes, your job can make you happy. A 2021 MBO Partners report found that about eight out of 10 full-time independent workers reported feeling happier and healthier working independently. To compete, businesses will have to reinvent themselves to give employees greater purpose through their work or risk losing talent to more fulfilling, self-driven options. What began as a temporary shift to accommodate a crisis has become a new set of fundamental qualities that we consider essential in a job.
Expanding Options Offer More Stability
As entrepreneurs, people found greater security in multiple income streams while losing confidence in single-source incomes. According to the MBO report, 73 percent of new part-time independents cited supplemental income as the reason for leaving their job. Two out of three full-time independent workers reported feeling more secure than in traditional work. With so many ways to earn a stable living through multiple income streams, the workforce is realizing that they now have more options outside of an office than in one.
MORE FOR YOU
After the pandemic, one source of income became just as risky as starting a business, so people started taking risks into their own hands. With traditional industries hiring less and new industries often requiring advanced training, people are choosing to create their own businesses. Expanding opportunities in the gig economy are helping entrepreneurs financially support their businesses and get them off the ground. For the first time, people can find more security in their independence managing multiple income streams than with a salary.
Work Looks Different
Times are changing, and so is business. From 2019 to 2021, the number of remote workers jumped from 7.3 to 15.5 million and the pandemic forced employers to normalize remote conditions. In the process, people realized that working from anywhere was possible, and they recognized the freedom in that option. When businesses tried calling workers back to the office, many opted for more flexible independent opportunities. Unlike the big corporate dreams of entrepreneurs of old, many business newcomers today are content staying small. They want to create lifestyle businesses and aim to prove that work can complement life rather than take it over completely.
The face of business is transforming, as younger generations are taking the lead among those starting new companies. MBO found that 68 percent of independent work newbies were Gen Z or millennials aged 18 to 40. Ideas about business are changing, too. Whether it is of privilege or simply a change in priorities, younger generations are discovering that finding purpose is as important to them as finding riches. We can enjoy what we do, and our passions can become legitimate careers.
One of the most sought-after assets in life is purpose. As kids, we find it wherever we go, but as we grow older, it has to fit within our calendars. Spending time with family, relaxing and recharging, practicing our hobbies — these turn from necessities to luxuries. Some of us indeed find purpose in our vocations, but there are other options for those who don’t. As starting a business is now easier than ever, more people are finding purpose through building something that is their own. The majority of this newfound class of business owners isn’t looking to build a huge corporation or a fast-growing startup — they are reclaiming ownership of their dreams. As people around us find increasing success in building their businesses, more of us will start following in their footsteps. The more we accomplish, the more we realize is possible.