December 3, 2021

Side Hustle Nation

Side Hustle Nation

Did you see the front page story in the Wall Street Journal this week about the “Great Resignation”? It seems that people have been quitting their jobs in record numbers in order to start businesses of their own. Americans filed 1.4 million applications to start businesses in September alone, according to one analysis of Census data. And many of these startups are in industries like manufacturing and retail, where there is plenty of potential to scale up.

The entrepreneur in me understands why they’re jumping on this trend. The pandemic ushered in some great opportunities for new companies—delivering food, running an e-commerce store, sanitizing offices, you name it. Meanwhile, many Americans, freed from commuting during the worst months of the lockdowns, had spare time on their hands and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to finally take that risk and start their own business – and found that they liked it. For still others, necessity has been the mother of invention. For a host of reasons, working from home on a schedule they can control is very appealing to a lot of people right now.

The CEO in me hopes they’re all successful. Serving entrepreneurs is in our DNA here at Marcum, and today’s tiny, one-person start up could become tomorrow’s next big thing.

That said, I do have some concerns about what this means for the labor market. Many employers are already worried that the candidates they’re interviewing today—as well as their most critical staffers—will get poached by the competition. Now there’s something else to entice these workers away—the chance to be their own bosses.

What this means is employers will have to raise the employee experience to a much higher level. Having a great culture is mandatory. And making sure managers keep their fingers on the pulse of what matters to employees is going to be increasingly important. Gallup recently found that among employees who left their jobs voluntarily, 52% said there was something their company could have done to keep them from quitting.

In some cases, that “something” may be providing better benefits, which has been top-of-mind for many workers during COVID. As I shared in a recent Firm-wide Town Hall call with our team, Marcum just significantly upgraded our benefits package in response to feedback from our associates. They talked and we listened. It’s an investment in their future and ours.

Making investments like these is a high wire act for many businesses in today’s environment. Our recent CEO survey found that about two-thirds of companies have been affected by rising costs, and 40% believe the economy is in a long-term inflationary cycle that will require government intervention. Many companies will have to find savings elsewhere in their budgets as a counterbalance. Ultimately, no business can grow without investing in its people.

My prediction is that, ultimately, some of the folks who are starting businesses right now will discover it’s not as easy as it looks and decide to give traditional jobs a second chance. A select few may be the next Amazon, Microsoft, Apple or Facebook. And given the valuable entrepreneurial skills they’ll be picking up, those who do return to the regular workforce will have plenty to bring back to any growth-minded company—and we’ll be ready to make it very tempting for the accountants and technology specialists among them to join the Marcum team.