Ross Buhrdorf, the CEO of ZenBusiness, is leading the way for a new wave of entrepreneurs. ZenBusiness is on a mission to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, small business owners, gig-economy workers and freelancers to take charge of their lives and futures, by ditching the corporate world and working for themselves.
His company enables these intrepid folks to start, run and grow a successful business. The amount of people that want to opt out of the traditional corporate rat race is staggering. Pre-pandemic ZenBusiness had roughly 30,000 customers—and the number has recently exploded to 250,000.
Buhrdorf, a long-time tech executive, saw older workers get fired at the company he worked at early in his career. From this, he had an epiphany—if they laid off the experienced talent, what would happen to him 10 or more years later? He decided that since it’s risky to pursue the traditional corporate route, he might as well chart his own course and be in control of his destiny. Buhrdorf then rebooted his career as a successful entrepreneur.
He is not alone. Americans are a relentless, maverick, rugged and determined bunch of people. While we like complaining and arguing with each other, Americans have this built-in sense of self-determination and grit. We refuse to give up in the face of disaster. Against all odds, we persevere and bravely forge forward, in pursuit of our dreams and goals.
One aspect of the “American Dream” is to start a business and create your own future. During the early days of the virus outbreak, there was a record-setting number of new business formations. This “startup boom” was noticed by John Haltiwanger, an economist at the University of Maryland.
Haltiwanger pointed out that within the first two months of the virus outbreak, there was a noticeable rise in new business applications. Working on a project with the government provided him with official data detailing new business formations. He was surprised to see the upward trend of new business applications. Haltiwanger said at the time, “The third quarter of 2020 was the highest quarter of applications we’ve ever seen.”
Inc. Magazine, a publisher that covers small emerging businesses, echoed Haltiwanger’s findings and wrote, “Over the past three months, more new businesses were launched in the U.S. than in any quarter in history.” The report showed, “Between June and September, nearly 1.4 million startups were founded.”
When a person loses their job, they have tough choices to make. You can start searching for a new role in your field, pivot to a different type of opportunity or reinvent yourself. After a number of months without any luck, you then have to figure out another plan. This could involve becoming an entrepreneur. Change brings chaos and opportunities. As the way we work and live our lives has been altered, a large number of people decided to take fate into their own hands and create a new business.
It’s not just opening a restaurant, bar or nail salon. ZenBusiness offers its services to gig workers and a wide array of self-employed solopreneurs. The company provides a one-stop shop to get everything you need to start a business and maintain it. This includes creating an LLC to protect your assets, business filing services, compliance, taxes, website building and a like-minded network. It makes creating, building and running a successful business simple and affordable.
According to a recent ZenBusiness survey, the top reason why its customers decided to dive into entrepreneurship was to change their lives, which includes being their own boss, exploring new passions and rethinking priorities, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and realizing they should follow their business dreams.
ZenBusiness is also a public benefit corporation. This means that social impact is baked into its mission and business model. It’s committed to ensuring small businesses—an historically under-served and overlooked group—are successful, whether that’s “through hands-on help with business formations, publishing and sharing helpful resources through ZenBusiness Academy, or participating in small business grant and loan programs.” To help support its customers and ensure a bright future for them during the pandemic, ZenBusiness created a Covid-19 grant program and distributed $1,000 grants to a selection of small businesses.
Highlights of ZenBusiness Data
About 81% of micro business owners believe that those who have a community of fellow business owners to reach out to are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. Around 42% of businesses formed in 2021 on the ZenBusiness platform were female-owned, which is an 8.4% increase from 2021.
There is a wide mix of business startups. The top ZenBusinesses include software consultants, real estate investment, clothing, arts, photo/video, truck driving and Amazon sellers.
California, Texas, Florida and New York lead as the top states for new business started on the platform. Interestingly, the ages of the entrepreneurs skew toward Millennials. The top age group is 25 to 34, now making up 31% of U.S. businesses formed. The biggest growth was in 18 to 24 year-olds, with a 21% increase. The second biggest growth was 35 to 44, with a 9% increase.
We are also seeing a rise in entrepreneurship in new and different ways. Over the last couple of years, we’ve noticed a groundswell movement of people trading meme stocks, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and NFTs. The people engaged in these YOLO (you-only-live-once) activities are taking risks, just like business owners, to get their fair share of the American Dream and lead the life they desire.