Turning Lemons Into Lemonade: A Casualty of the Housing Crisis Finds a New Calling

We've been hearing a lot lately about how a floundering economy spurs the creation of entrepreneurs, so let's meet one.

Scott Gordon

Scott Gordon, 27, hung out his virtual shingle after he recently "got the ax" as he put it, from a large real estate firm -- part of the spreading effect of the subprime mortgage crisis.

"I worked 10, 11 hour days every day and I gave 110 percent to that company," he said, asking that the Washington-area business not be identified. "I was too quick to be let go. I was good at what I did. I felt disposable...and I realized that I needed to stop working for big corporations because I don't feel safe in terms of layoffs."

Now Gordon is founder, president and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Freelance, and currently its only employee.

Gordon, whose wife works for Arlington County, mulled over what to do after he was suddenly in a poor financial situation. After working odd jobs, he contemplated heading up a landscaping business, but was wary of potential worker liability issues.

"I kept thinking and thinking: 'What do graphic designers do? Web designers? What do these people do who work largely based on other people's disposable income'," Gordon recalled, adding that he knew he should tap into his customer service skills.

His idea is to act as a middleman between freelancers and people who need freelancers. "I thought I could develop a network of individuals, not unlike myself, looking for work and pair them up with clients like corporations and non-profits who need something done at a specific cost in a specific timeframe."

The hard part is satisfying both parties, he noted.

Gordon said his business fulfills a need temporary agencies can't address because "with a staffing or temp agency, the job is truly temporary, and then, literally your time is up. We are a boutique. Clients come to us with a specific project-based request rather than 'I'm looking for a paralegal.'"

He also sees value in being able to keep overhead costs low. Mid-Atlantic is 99.9 percent virtual, he said, and as he works out of his Virginia home, his only major costs are for Web site hosting and a second phone line. Gordon plans on getting paid by his corporate clients and will in turn pass that money on to the freelancer after taking a small percentage of it. He is quite close to securing his first client, which is based in Massachusetts.

"Some of the best startups are successful because they take advantage of an otherwise nasty situation," he said. "And I'm just one more person who's been negatively impacted by the awful real estate market."

Small Business Readers: Have you recently started your own business after being laid off? Send me your story at smallbusiness@washingtonpost.com.

By Sharon McLoone |  April 17, 2008; 10:47 AM ET Profiles in Entrepreneurship
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Fascinating idea! I have a feeling we'll be seeing a good deal about this company.

Posted by: Barry Nolen | April 17, 2008 12:55 PM

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