In all of the debates and discussions about how the recession has ravaged Wall Street, few seem to be focused on entrepreneurs who have been soldiering on in the worst of times. These are the working-class folks who didn't get a golden parachute or a hefty severance package. Stay in business or starve - that is their daily reality.
These are the employers who lost sleep over after telling tearful mothers and fathers that they could no longer afford to keep them on payroll. These are the bosses who went from working 12 hour days to suddenly working around the clock - desperately holding on to clients and their sanity.
Martin Gover knows this all too well. He is the Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer and so much more of Momentum Sports Management, Inc. A superstar in the field of agents, he became famous for pairing his celebrity roster of athletes and entertainers with corporations and charities. But his New York City-based business suffered a devastating one-two punch that left him reeling for years. The first blow was immediately after 9/11. Just months before the World Trade Center attacks, the New York City police officer resigned from the force to pursue his dream job and quickly saw his newly formed business go down the toilet. Gover says, "It was horrific on multiple levels but I hung in there." But the Bush-era recession nearly torpedoed him for good and he fled the Big Apple and relocated most of his business to Las Vegas. He says it was a 'do or die' decision.
Martin Gover is getting his groove back and he says he's finding his footing back in New York City with new clients and growing opportunities.
Soul food king Carl Redding is also getting his groove back - but he had to leave his old stomping grounds to find it. He sold his legendary Harlem restaurant Amy Ruth's and fled for greener pastures in Atlantic City in 2010. Redding's Restaurant is a full-service comfort food restaurant in downtown Atlantic City with 60 employees. Redding says, "I am sure that the recession has had an effect on my business because I can see the hurt and despair on the faces of people in the community."
Redding is optimistic that 2011 will mark a healthy turnaround for his restaurant.
Lee McDonald is also hoping for a turnaround. Her two-year-old Maryland based business the Renaissance Group was founded in 2008 - just a few short months after the U.S. entered the recession. The marketing, public relations and event planning firm got hit extra hard because she primarily works with individuals, small businesses and non-profits. McDonald says, "Unfortunately when line items are trimmed from the budget, we are the first to get cut." But she says 2011 looks promising because new clients are coming on board and the existing ones are staying put.
For 32 years, Vera Moore has been holding steadfast to her vision of being the next big cosmetics queen. And just when she nailed the opportunity of a lifetime, getting prominent placement in a major chain, the recession tightened its grip and Moore had to fight to stay afloat. Moore says, "We had to keep everything lean and mean as customers cut back their spending." It wasn't pretty, but Vera Moore believes the worst is over and she can't wait to kiss 2010 goodbye.
Moore's family business has five employees and her skincare and cosmetic products are featured in twelve Duane Reade "Look Boutique" stores. But the cosmetics maven is still putting her best face forward. Drug store giant Walgreens just acquired Duane Reade and Vera Moore hopes her eponymous brand will see even greater exposure with 20 more locations.
So here's to 2011 - entrepreneurs are hoping for a silver lining and a chance to exhale.