I just saw a news clip in Danish television in which we were introduced to five former Nokia employees. They were laid off when Nokia recently shut down a big R&D facility in Denmark and they got kudos for starting their own company (Acorn – making training solutions for endurance sports athletes).
I guesstimate that only 1 in a 1,000 startups really strike it big as in the founders becoming multi-millionaries. The founders of Acorn might settle for less, but what struck me as I saw the clip was that they are in a win-win situation.
First, I should state that it is very difficult getting a good job (within R&D / innovation) in Denmark today and the alternative is often a quite reasonable unemployment compensation. This sounds ok, but if you can afford to take a chance and have the guts to do so, you will be much better off giving it a try as an entrepreneur – even if the venture fails.
The reason is that in a year or two, we will see a huge demand for people, who can make innovation happen in big companies. These guys from Acorn learn new skills, they develop a “better” mindset and they simply get sharper. This will be highly valuable for big companies.
I acknowledge that not everyone is in a position to start a company when they are laid off. Nor should everyone, but they at least owe it to themselves as well as to the society in general to give it some thought. As with the founders of Acorn, it could become a win-win for everyone.