Look &mdash it’s not so much that there are no jobs out there; the real issue is that jobs are changing. Sure, there’s a lot of protesting going on these days about unions and jobs and low wages, and while standing around with a sign all day might sound fun, it doesn’t put espressos on the table. So, if you are in a dead-end job or your job looks like it might go the way of the Jeopardy contestant, recognize this and shift gears.
People all over the country are changing careers, often because their jobs are becoming obsolete &mdash journalists, travel agents, lawyers, all these sectors are changing rapidly right now, but other opportunities are growing. Instead of being stressed that your job is changing for the worse, find out what new jobs are emerging because of the change and make a change yourself.
One way to create a sustainable career is to create stability for yourself with career attitudes. Today’s new employment picture involves constant job changes, lots of career changes, and an entrepreneurial spirit. For example, the average Gen Y-er starts looking for a job on the third day of their current job. Career changes used to be something saved for mid-life crises. But today, people can expect to change careers five times.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Entrepreneurs speak to what’s best about America, and in their drive and innovative spirit — in their willingness to take a risk on a bold idea — we can see the future. We can see how America will compete and win in the 21st century global economy.”
And the President isn’t all talk. He recently created a program called “Startup America.” (http://www.startupamericapartnership.org/) The purpose of this initiative is to encourage and support entrepreneurship. The ultimate goal is to support job creation, and who can argue with that? This public-private program is getting started with $400 million from such big businesses as IBM and Intel Capital. Leading the effort on the private sector’s side is Steve Case, co-founder of AOL.
Entrepreneurship is so popular today because it’s a safety net for an unreliable workplace. Of course starting your own business isn’t easy. New entrepreneurs need to work hard and set realistic goals. They have to have a real strategy for how they’re going to make money. A lot of people come up with ideas and they think they’re great, but to start a successful business, you have to have a clear path on how you’re going to make the money. You must know your market. A big reason a lot of businesses fail is, despite having great ideas, the entrepreneurs have no idea how they’re going to make money out of it. If you don’t have a job, this is the time to research businesses, find some money and speak to other entrepreneurs about how they made it. It beats the heck out of watching your job and life slip away.
Of course there is a downside of entrepreneurship too. Your life may lack stability and structure. Your ability to take time off may be highly limited. And you may become stressed as you manage cash flow on the one hand and expansion on the other. Three out of five new businesses in the U.S. fail within 18 months of getting started.
It’s important to be savvy and understand what is and is not realistic. The web is chock-full of come-ons promising to make you rich. Avoid promotions that require you to pay up front to learn some secret to wealth. Understand that the market is more or less efficient–which means that if a bunch of people know a sure way to be a millionaire then the opportunity has probably already been taken. On the other hand, look for inefficiencies in markets. Places where a better idea, a little ingenuity or some aggressive marketing could really make a difference. Think about problems that people would pay to have a solution to. It helps to know finance. It’s a must to really know your product area well. What do consumers want? What differentiates you from the competition? How do you market this product? A formal business plan is not essential, but is normally a great help in thinking through the case for a new business. You’ll be investing more in it than anyone else, so treat yourself like a smart, skeptical investor who needs to be convinced that the math adds up.