MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – June 13, 2012 – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced the findings of a landmark study it commissioned from Forrester Consulting, which reveals that the leaders of small businesses launched during the Great Recession are dramatically different than those who launched their company prior to 2008. The recent recession put millions of people out of work or threatened their employment. It also ravaged the home equity and retirement accounts of countless recently retired professionals, leaving them to wonder whether they walked out of their previous employer through a one-way door to financial ruin. These unprecedented economic shockwaves spawned a new breed of entrepreneur: the accidental entrepreneur-- defined as a company founder who started his or her small businesses out of pure necessity rather than a lifelong dream of “being their own boss.” These accidental entrepreneurs are agile, highly educated, tech-savvy and battle-tested business professionals and the companies they founded and will found are born to grow.
While the recent recession has extinguished the torch of an unprecedented number of small businesses, the number of new companies born during the last three and a half years is equally unmatched. In the U.S. alone, there were 60,000 more businesses started per month in 2009 than in 2007, according to the Kaufmann Foundation's Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. The Forrester Consulting research indicates that the companies founded as the world economy struggled are poised for explosive growth, particularly companies with 10-49 employees, and that they aggressively leverage technology such as cloud computing to fast-track their success.
Key Findings (10-49 employees)
- Profits not passion drive small businesses started post 2008. Fifty-four percent of small businesses founded in the dark days of the recession consider their company a growth business (having an exit strategy) rather than lifestyle business which is 15 percent higher than pre-recession companies. More than one-third of the founders of post-recession companies came from a position with a large (500+ employee) company. These skilled professionals are used to making a good living and need to re-invent themselves to maintain their standard of living – 35 percent left their large employers due to the recession, while another 8 percent came from other accidental entrepreneur backgrounds, such as the newly “unretired” or returning military.
- Accidental entrepreneurs are bullish about growth. Of the small businesses founded post 2008, 46 percent expect to double their number of employees in the next two years and 75 percent expect revenue to grow more than 10 percent. Fewer small businesses founded prior to 2008 are as optimistic, with only 12 percent expecting to double employees and 39 percent expecting to grow revenues by more than 10 percent.
- Recession-born small businesses take dramatic and immediate advantage of the cloud. Twenty-one percent of accidental entrepreneurs have zero servers versus 5 percent of those founded before 2008. These small businesses trust more applications to the cloud, with 51 percent deploying cloud software and 26 percent having implemented cloud security, compared to just 39 percent and 16 percent of pre-2008 small businesses, respectively. Interestingly, the research found that all small businesses are aggressively adopting cloud storage and backup.
- Accidental entrepreneurs are better prepared to scale security. Accidental entrepreneurs are also 27 percent more confident that their current security solution will scale with their company’s growth over the next two years.
- More self-sufficient in making software decisions. Whether financial/accounting/ERP, collaboration or security software, accidental entrepreneurs base their decision on what software the founder used in their previous job or that they used as a consumer. They also strongly prefer known brands. On the other hand, the majority of pre-recession small businesses base their software decision on the recommendation of a value-added reseller (VAR). For collaboration software, the difference is especially striking, with 50 percent of pre-recession small businesses acting on the recommendation of a VAR, while 36 percent of post-recession small businesses chose software that the founder used in his former job or as a consumer.
- “Small businesses are the driving force of our economic recovery, but unlike other recessionary times it’s not the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker starting new businesses,” said Brian Burch, vice president of marketing communications for SMB and .Cloud at Symantec. “Accidental entrepreneurs are reshaping the SMB market. They’re growing significantly faster than the less technically-confident, less agile, less ‘connected’ small business owner and they need simple, easy-to-deploy and easy-to-manage solutions that can keep pace as they quickly scale their company. Symantec is committed to providing this new class of entrepreneur with information protection solutions built for SMBs from the ground up.”
- “Three years ago, I wrote a report on a then-forthcoming SMB market phenomenon, characterized as the SMB phoenix or accidental entrepreneur. Gleaned from interviews with new (at the time) small business founders, our research indicated that these new businesses ‘rising from the ashes’ of the 2008-09 recession were poised to mark a significant departure from the SMB market of yore,” wrote Tim Harmon, principal analyst with Forrester Research. “This new breed of entrepreneurs were characterized by their optimistic growth projections, their bigger investment in and broader utilization of technology, their marketing prowess, and their relative self-sufficiency. In many ways, they act more like an enterprise business than a classical SMB.”¹
- “Too often, start ups buy technology for their immediate need, which is short-sighted for a growth business because you can’t scale quickly,” said, Josh Long, CEO, NRG Vision, an energy services company. “As a small firm, NRG Vision doesn’t have capital to throw around like larger players do, but our on-the-go workforce needs to be up-and-running without technology disruptions in order to compete. Cloud technologies give us global availability, scalability and affordability, which is essential to quickly grow a start-up founded during tough economic times.”
Forrester Consulting on The Accidental Entrepreneur
The study of 305 IT business decision makers at small- to medium-sized businesses (3-250 employees), split equally amongst respondents at companies founded pre- and post-2008, was administered by Forrester Consulting in North America from April 20 to May 10, 2012.
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¹Forrester Research, Inc., Blog Post: The SMB Phoenix Three Years Later, June 13, 2012