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Money Matters: Want to be your own boss? This is the place

By J’Nel Wright - Special to the Daily Herald | May 18, 2024

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Utah has been named the best place in the nation to start your own business.

In these tenuous economic times, chances are you know somebody impacted by company layoffs or staff reductions. For instance, doTERRA, a Pleasant Grove-based wellness company, recently announced a “rightsizing” initiative, resulting in almost 300 pink slips. These former employees are joining a growing list of casualties from mass layoffs at PayPal, eBay and UPS, among others — and more and more of these people are becoming entrepreneurs.

“Quite a few people have aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur earlier in life, but then the lure of a cool brand, six-figure salaries, cafeterias and other perks beckon,” said Bernhard Schroeder, a senior lecturer at San Diego State University. This trend is particularly true for those impacted in the tech industry. A recent survey found that 63% of tech workers started their own company following a layoff. Additionally, 58% of tech workers who started a company after a layoff feel better about their new job security.

As Utah residents wait for the other boot to drop on their employment security, head-spinning news from WalletHub named the Beehive State as the leading state for business startups. Based on research, Utah claims the top spot, in part because it is easy to secure business loan financing and it experiences the largest year-over-year employment growth at 2.5%.

As the number of startups continues to rise, it’s hard not to consider the possibilities.

Do you have what it takes to be your own boss? Do you have a fantastic idea that provides a solution for a common problem among people? If you’re ready to throw your hat in the entrepreneurial ring, Utah is the place. Here are five ways to help fuel your decision.

1. Be unafraid to blaze a new trail, but also look for pathways carved out by people who came before you.

The need to pivot amid challenges and pioneer a new path is baked into the very fabric of this community. Whether it be economic fluctuations, technological advancements or societal shifts, Utahns understand that the ability to pioneer new paths is essential for progress.

“Adversity often breeds innovation. Layoffs can serve as a catalyst for individuals and teams to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams,” said Curtis Blair, president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The strong sense of community and access to resources in Utah County make it easier for individuals to bounce back from layoffs and pursue their passion projects.”

It is this innate capacity to embrace change and forge ahead into uncharted territories that distinguishes us, ensuring that we not only survive but thrive.

2. When faced with challenges, pivoting is your superpower.

Amy Osmond Cook, co-founder of Fullcast, didn’t actively seek out the entrepreneurial life. When the financial market sank, taking her husband’s job at Lehman Brothers with it, she knew she had to change the trajectory of a life circumstance that seemed doomed to failure.

With a portion of a tax refund, she started a content marketing business called Stage Marketing, where one of her clients was Ryan Westwood. As her company grew, so did her marketing expertise to effectively serve enterprise clients as chief marketing officer at Simplus. Today, she has joined Westwood on their second venture as a co-founder and CMO at Fullcast.

3. Leverage community support.

Utah’s entrepreneurial community is known for its tight-knit support network, and that brings comfort when times get hard. “Starting a business is a difficult and risky process, but where you live can highly influence your chances of success,” said Cassandra Happe, WalletHub analyst. “Before establishing a business in any location, make sure to do research to ensure it’s an ideal place for your customer base, has enough labor and supplier availability, and suits your needs when it comes to financing.”

4. Find a team that gets it done.

Whether you start with two people or 20, building a talented and cohesive team that knows how to operate within a startup environment is critical for success in entrepreneurship.

“If you need to be managed, you’re an employee, not a founder. And if you want to merely offer advice or opinions, you’re an advisor, at best,” said Paul O’Brien, CEO at MediaTech Ventures. “Because within a team, what conventional wisdom repeats time and again is that the job to be done in a startup is getting it done: not strategizing, not meeting, not debating or discussing, not putting together more material nor documentation, but doing the work — with a reduced sense of modesty, an openness to adventure and energy beyond that which most have. Just get it done.”

Let your company’s purpose and mission be your guide. Then, use it as the foundation to build a work environment with people who are not only skilled but also aligned with the company’s values, goals and culture.

5. Never stop learning.

It’s important to stay curious, seek new knowledge and skills, and adapt to a changing business landscape.

Continuous learning and personal development are integral to the entrepreneurial journey,” said Cameron Forni, president of Select at Curaleaf. “They enable entrepreneurs to stay ahead in a changing landscape, enhance their business skills, foster innovation, build a strong network, develop effective leadership abilities and adapt to challenges. By embracing lifelong learning, entrepreneurs can continuously grow, evolve and drive the success of their ventures in a competitive business world.”

Whether through formal education, mentorship or self-directed learning, investing in oneself is essential for long-term success.

There were 71,877 new Utah business applications filed in 2023, ranking Utah sixth in 2023 business applications per capita. As someone who invests in and supports this community, Blair recognizes what makes this area a smart choice for entrepreneurs. “Utah County is a triple threat for entrepreneurship because of the vibrant economy, strong network of mentors, investors and resources, and its unique blend of economic stability and risk-taking culture due to a younger working demographic,” Blair said.

With these factors working together, Utah County continues to emerge as a formidable force in the realm of entrepreneurship. Will you join the call to be your own boss?

J’Nel Wright is a content writer at Fullcast, a Silicon Slopes-based, end-to-end RevOps platform that allows companies to design, manage and track the performance of their revenue-generating teams.


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