I can remember the first day of starting the journey of obtaining my management degree. On this first day, the dean said to all the students: “Look at the person to the right of you; at the end of this school year one of you will not be here anymore”.

When diving into our reality on Aruba, I would dare say that when you look at the people in your neighborhood, you probably know at least one person who has lost his/her job or who is no longer receiving an income.

There is nothing worse than to be in such financial uncertainty. Bills have to be paid and one has to be able to feed his/her family.  And although the word “survival” is on everybody’s mind at this time, we must think about how we will continue in the future.

Small businesses are the backbone of every economy and if we have learnt anything during the last years, at least in Aruba, is that we cannot depend on tourism alone to sustain our economy. Do not get me wrong, tourism remains important, but we have come to a point whereby we can no longer put all our eggs in one basket. So you must now be wondering, what does this have to do with me, as a reader?

What do the names 24-Hour Home Care, Smashburger, Outsource Virtual, Apple, Netflix and Airnbnb all have in common? According to Forbes Magazine, the first three companies were listed as three of the twenty amazing companies founded during a financial crisis.  The other companies do not need any introduction, but these companies were also founded during a period of economic hardship. What we can learn from these examples is that an economic crisis is not a reason not to think about your next step.

And although it may be difficult under the current unprecedented circumstances we are living in to think about the future, we must.   Some are at home because of the decisions taken by your (former) employer. Because of all of these necessary and in some cases unfortunate circumstances, you can use this time to explore the internet to come up with ideas to start your own business and to follow courses (the myth that you are too old to learn is pure nonsense) that will prepare you to run your own business. Certain webinars and online classes are free of charge and can help you prepare for a new and brighter future. And even if you do not want to start your own business, you have acquired new knowledge that can help you with your next job.

Now I can hear you asking, where will you get the money from to start your own business?  You currently do not have a job, you have bills to pay and you are barely surviving.  Yes this is true and I do understand these circumstance (I really do and I am not saying that just to make you feel better).  So let me give some examples of who started with hardly anything and became very successful.

In his December 14, 2017 article “5 Entrepreneurs Who Started With Nothing – and 3 Lessons to Learn” published in Entrepreneur Magazine, Jayson DeMers wrote that Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, had no money when he started his company. Look at Under Armour now (chances are that you probably own something from Under Armour). John Paul DeJoria started with US$ 700 and now runs a conglomerate known as Paul Mitchell Systems (if you do not know Paul Mitchell, then Google it, the company really does exist!).

I realize that writing this article is much easier than starting your own business. I will give you that whilst you are shouting out my name and saying that I live in Disney World as I am not in touch with reality. I will admit that it is going to be very difficult, not to mention that it will add to your stress, to obtain financing in our current situation.  The only advice I can give you is to check what other sacrifices you can make (and I know you are probably making many sacrifices as we speak).  Can you approach family members that can help you? Can you team up with others so that together you can start a business?  Are you in good standing with a bank and could you obtain a small business loan?  For this latter, the bank will require a business plan (and yes we can help you with this).

Having your own business will mean making sacrifices. If you are married and have kids, they need to support you and understand what is at stake.  We are not going to sugarcoat it, some small businesses will fail; that is the risk of being an entrepreneur.  Failing has a price; normally more debt. We cannot give you any guarantee nor will we promise you success. But here is what we can offer you: solid and realistic advice.  If you want to start your own business, review your last and past labor agreements to see if your labor agreement allows you to do certain business activities, even if you are no longer employed.

Photo: MIke Petrucci on Unsplash