By DAN SMITH
By 9:30 this morning, 30 minutes after the doors to the Roanoke Civic Center were opened, 250 people looking for work had signed in at the City of Roanoke's job fair and it looked like Congressman Bob Goodlatte was going to be prophetic.
Goodlatte, who added his name to the job fair and who personally recruited some of the 110 companies taking part to do so, had said he was looking for 100 companies and 1,000 job-seekers. He was well on the way.
Most of those at the fair were looking to work for somebody else, but those with a little more of the entrepreneurial spirit needed to stop by the Roanoke Small Business Development Center's booth and talk to Tom Tanner, who could lead them through the minefield of self-employment.
Tanner says he's seen an uptick of people going into business for themselves as the bad economy has become more prevalent. "Two kinds of people are going into business for themselves," he says. "First there are those who can't find a job and want some kind of opportunity. And second, there are the unemployed who have a little money from a 401(k) or some other source and want to own their own business.
"Some of them are consultants with great backgrounds, others have a skill or a very good idea." Most, he says, can't get a bank loan, but "if they make it when the economy is down, they will be stable when it turns around. They're the 'bootstrappers' and they have a good shot at success because of the energy and commitment they bring."
Tanner says that raising capital--a vital element since undercapitalization is the leading cause of business failure early-on--is difficult, even with a credit card, since they're becoming harder to get. "If I'm spending my own dollars," he says, "it means more to me and I watch every dollar. That's a great way to start."
This morning, some were looking at that option.