Today, The Huffington Post is beginning to collect stories from people who, having lost or quit their job, rolled the dice and started their own small business.
We're looking for entrepreneurs like Vincent Nasserbakht, a former financial analyst who realized one day that he was unhappy with his job in finance. Nasserbakht knew there was no promotion that could make him happier in the field he was in. "So I had to do my own thing," he says.
In the midst of the recession, Nasserbakht ditched Wall Street and fell back on what he had learned as a child growing up in a retail family. He started the Sock Hop, a sock and accessory store in downtown Manhattan.
"I don't really miss a steady pay check. I think that's the hardest thing to leave and once you leave it, you realize you can do things without it," Nasserbakht says. "I rely a lot on other people, but at the same time, that steady pay check holds you back as much as it does provide for you."
Watch Vincent Nasserbakht share his story and give advice to would-be entrepreneurs (Video reporting by Samira Nanda and Hunter Stuart):
Nasserbakht took the leap voluntarily. But the recession has spawned a new wave of accidental entrepreneurs -- those who have lost their jobs and, suddenly unable to find a job, have created their own.
Like Dean Blackburn, who shares his story here:
When the company used the economic downturn as an excuse to clean house of several new hires including myself, it hurt. I wasn't being fired -- but it still had that "dirty" feeling, that my fate was decided by a calculating few, who cared only about quarterly profit margins. That they timed my departure to forcibly reduce my covered health benefits only confirmed this in my eyes.
I found myself in a highly competitive job market that wasn't open to talking to those who didn't already have a job ... And instead of two weeks, I find myself closing in on two years of unemployment, with barely a phone interview each month to show for it. The further away my last departure date gets, the less likely it is that anyone will call me back.
Having lived in the Bay Area for almost 10 years, it was a little strange that I have never worked for, or even applied to, a tech startup company. When I lucked into a free ticket to attend a startup pitch night in December of 2009, I had no idea what to expect. I finally took an opportunity to pitch a completely crazy notion I had, and I was shocked to discover my idea received the only standing ovation of the night. I had finally found my way 'home.'
Since incorporating NaviDate, an online dating service, I've had many setbacks, doubts, and seen new competitors arise seemingly from nowhere. But apart from the perpetual jibes from well-meaning relatives and friends, the reaction and support from the startup community has been amazing. I may have arrived here accidentally, but I've always been an entrepreneur at heart -- eager to explore possibilities, and take important risks to increase business performance. It's just that. In this turbulent economy, the rewards of taking those risks on my own behalf are far greater than doing so in exchange for a hardly-stable paycheck, and dwindling benefits.
Entrepreneurs: if you've launched a business after losing or quitting your job, please submit a 4-6 minute video to The Huffington Post telling about your experience. Please include information about what your small business does. Tell us what you did before you launched it, how you've financed it, how you made the difficult decision to dive into entrepreneurship, and include advice to those who are thinking about doing the same.
The videos will be featured in future posts on Small Business America, Huff Post's new blog about small business and entrepreneurship, and elsewhere on The Huffington Post.
Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether your company is big or small, successful or struggling, online or offline, we want to hear about it. Tell us about your business in your e-mail, and we'll get back to you with more details.