Survival Tips for Accidental Entrepreneurs

Remember about a decade ago, when the popular reality television show called “Worse Case Scenario” hit the scene? For those of you who may not be “in the know” on this one, here’s a recap:

In essence, this weekly, nail-biting show used skilled stuntmen to provide demonstrations of how we (as viewers) could escape, survive, outsmart, and strategize through potential dangers and unthinkable disasters — and land on our feet during life’s emergencies and challenges. The show evolved from a popular book series bearing the same name, published in the late 1990’s.

Enter 2010.

Though we may not be experiencing apocalyptic events, millions that are faced with an uncertain economy, a housing crisis, and rampant job loss, are discovering that they also need to be real life “stuntmen” of sorts. This is so that they can dodge bill collectors, navigate financial obstacle courses, avoid getting “burned” and think creatively under pressure.

Accidental Entrepreneurs Are Born

As the name implies, “accidental entrepreneurs” are worker bees who, due to job loss, the desire for more control over their financial futures, and a lack of viable options, decide to go into running a business for themselves. Though hiring one’s self is nothing new, this phenomenon is rather recent, as it has emerged as much from dire necessity as desire. Accidental entrepreneurs’ mantra? “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Perhaps you’re even one of them. If so, don’t despair. Though your circumstances may have been originally “forced” that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, be successful, and grow personally and professionally along the way. Whether your goal is to start your own band, write a book, or become a life coach. In fact, many times in life what starts out as a perceived burden can become a blessing.

And I should know. It happened to me some years back when I was downsized from a P.R. Job, with a 2-week notice and a few months severance pay to stay afloat.

To make a long story short, through time and a series of events, I came to recognize that being downsized actually was pretty uplifting! I could work from home and avoid the stress of an overbearing boss, a grueling commute, office politics and the rat race in general. I also developed and honed skills that were either dormant or untapped. Which increased my confidence and my optimism. And no doubt you’ll become rather “resourceful” through trials and tribulations as well.

But don’t get me wrong. It certainly hasn’t been a bed of roses. I’ve had  set-backs, upheaval, detours and bumps and bruises on the road to success. But in the words of Maya Angelou, “I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey.”

The Odds

According to the Small Business Administration, only 2/3 of new small businesses survive at least 2 years. This is largely due to poor planning, a lack of resources, competition, and mismanagement — based upon what I’ve observed and heard from fellow entrepreneurs.

With this in mind, here’s how to survive and succeed as an accidental entrepreneur in today’s economic climate.

  • Do your homework! Just because you have an idea for a business doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a demand for it. You’ll need to know what licensure is required, start-up costs, your competition, pricing, and how you plan to deliver services to the public.
  • Have an emergency stash. Keep a nest egg to stave off hunger and hard times. Without it, you’ll become frustrated, fearful, and doomed for failure.
  • Take care of your health. When you manage your own business you often wear multiple hats — and can’t really afford to take several sick days due to a lack of staff and back-up support. Plus, if you’ve lost your insurance coverage as a result of losing your job, doctor’s visits, medications, and tests can become quite costly.
  • Seek a mentor. Whom do you admire for their business know-how? It doesn’t have to be someone you know personally, it can be someone you’ve “met” online. It could be a former college instructor, or a business leader in your community.

Follow these four timely tips for accidental entrepreneurs, and you’ll be a “deliberate” success equipped to go the distance!

(Image courtesy of Hamed Saber under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.)

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, popular relationship columnist and Managing Editor at Formerly an "awesome" public relations professional, she now enjoys the spoils of the entrepreneurial life. Additionally, she is a columnist for Technorati.


  1. kropped on the 11th November

    Nice tips, I’ve sort of fallen into this category of accidental entrepreneurs, I just hope I’m in the 1/3 that do survive.

    Thanks for the article

  2. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 11th November

    I wish the same for you, Kropped. 🙂 Thanks for your feedback. Much continued success,,,

  3. Karen Lange on the 11th November

    Thanks for this encouraging, realistic advice. It helps to know that you can land on your feet with a little planning and guidance.

  4. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 11th November

    Thanks for your thoughts, Karen. Yes, success is possible to those who plan and persevere.

  5. Bryce Christiansen on the 11th November

    Very helpful tips. I appreciate your advice.

    I’m not a full time entrepreneur currently, but do have some side work I do of my own.

    One tip that may help those who are reading this is to remember that it takes time to build momentum. Many times I’ve stopped trying a new project of my own just because the work to reward ratio is not high enough. As I’ve learned more I’ve been able to go back to old projects and make much more progress and the rewards are coming.

    Remember, progress not perfection and you will be able to hold in there.

  6. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 11th November


    You’re so on point with your point about momentum building. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built over night.” I also agree that progress should be an important guiding goal. I appreciate your time and input.

  7. Nikola on the 11th November

    Bravo Jen! Thanks for sharing these inspirational tips. I know several folks who have gone this route because of our unstable economic climate.

    • Jennifer Brown Banks on the 12th November


      I’m glad that you found the piece inspirational. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  8. VF on the 21st November

    Nicely put!

    haha, I am one of the accidental entpr and thankful to the external pressure that pointed me my efficient areas!

  9. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 22nd November


    Rock on! Thanks for weighing in.

  10. Peach on the 22nd November

    Nicely done. The post itself is inspiring, the thought put in to this are very useful. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Totally agree, an entrepreneur cannot afford to go sick leaves..

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