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updated: 10/31/2017 10:12 AM

The New Face of Entrepreneurship

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Meg Schmitz

The face of today's new crop of ambitious entrepreneurs in Chicagoland is changing, and you may very well fit the profile. But before I paint that picture more clearly for you, let's take a look at why the face of entrepreneurship here has changed dramatically in 2017.

Rewind ten years ago: the housing market bubble crashes and Wall Street drifts into the Great Recession of the early 21st Century. Chicago and the rest of the country follows. Many people lose their jobs and can't find work. For some, it takes years to find full-time employment. Some are still searching.

People were ho-hum, had a sense of helplessness, and rightfully so in some cases. They were making decisions based more on desperation than information. Some, acting out of sheer want for work, took jobs they didn't like or ones that paid a salary much less than what they previously earned. Uncertain financial times knocked many professionals' compasses out of balance.

But, the tide has turned, and I've observed a shift in attitude and approach to the way Chicagoans are reclaiming their careers. They've tread water for long enough through an economic environment deep in recession, and screws have begun to turn. Displaced professionals have re-navigated the job market, finding ways to make ends meet that don't involve climbing a corporate ladder. Those who don't have jobs are finding an alternative way to personal gratification and professional development. Many are becoming their own boss, by way of becoming independent entrepreneurs. Others are investing in franchises.

The trend toward small business ownership is especially pronounced in the franchising industry. Projections for franchising industry growth in 2017 provide a fair amount of hope for a large-scale economic turnaround. According to an IHS Global Insight report for the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation, the number of franchise establishments will increase by 3.3 percent this year.

In many cases, first-time entrepreneurs are choosing franchising over Wall Street investments. They consider the former a more formidable way to invest in their future than the stock market. Investing or creating stable, recession-resistant concepts, rather than the flavor of the day is more common today. Plus, many independent sellers of businesses and franchisors are retooling to attract today's new investor. The seller side of the process is playing into a new type of investor more concerned, but more optimistic; hopeful about making a career change but significantly more careful about the business they buy. Investors want to know: Will this concept or product be relevant in 10 years?

Of course entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. Becoming a success story requires time, money, and personal sacrifice to achieve the ultimate goal of financial freedom. Yes, you must be pioneering, but you must also be disciplined, energized, and laser focused. Do you have "the fire in the belly?" If yes, then you're headed in the right direction.

So, are you the entrepreneur of today -- energized about controlling your own destiny and tired of running into barriers? Let's talk. Contact me at megschmitz@franchoice.com.

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