It may be too early to hope for a “thousand points of light” for America’s small businesses, but I was asked recently if there was any good news out there, and here were three I could think of:
There is a bright spot for industries taking advantage of the downturn, for example real estate trusts buying up distressed commercial properties in hopes of the upturn. (The residential market has a similar operation going, but with less upside potential and more human capital involved.)
More students are deciding to start their own businesses rather than fight the rising tide of a horrible job market. Unemployment in the 18-24 age group is over 16% (http://michael-e.com/2009/08/unemployment-hardest-on-18-to-24-year-olds/).
We also seem to be seeing a surge in part-time self-employment, with a lot of small-scale home-based businesses, a lot of selling on eBay, and other low-cost, low overhead efforts to help make ends meet. As the economy picks up, a lot of people will abandon these efforts for better-paying employment, but the skills of working for yourself, and the emotional payoffs of it, mean that we are likely to see a long-term growth in self-employment after the post-recession dip.
Three’s not a thousand, but it is a start. I’d love to hear about more.