A couple of days ago, Thomas Friedman, a columnist with the NY Times wrote a column under the title that I used for this blog post: Need a job? Invent it. A friend posted a link to the column on Facebook, and I found it there. When I saw the title, I immediately clicked on it, because the title fits my thinking to a tee.
At first, I had thought that the column was written by Paul Krugman, with whom I almost always disagree. So, I was surprised at how much I agreed with the column. When I noticed my mistake and realized it was written by Friedman, that cleared things up for me a bit. Friedman has, in the past described himself as a “radical centrist.” I am a fairly conservative guy, although I don’t get into too many online political discussions. I find that such discussions rarely change any opinions, they only tend to lead to flaming, fighting, and nothing productive for the most part.
For the column, Friedman interviewed Tony Wagner, an education specialist at Harvard. Wagner wrote the book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World”. Basically, the discussion between Friedman and Wagner was that the way that the current education system was set up was too old-fashioned and that such an education system would not produce young people who would change the world. Frankly, the young people being educated now would be lucky to even get a job, let alone make changes that would affect the world.
This is what I have been saying, using different words, for a long time now. Our current educational system is broken.
My son, Aaron, graduated from High School last week. I spent a lot of time talking with him over the past months about what his future plans are. Between us, we came to the conclusion that he should not go to college, at least for now. His plan right now is to work for me for a year or two before deciding what to do for college. I steered him in this direction because I feel that the educational system is so unfocused today, and I don’t think that it produces people who really will come out of college ready to do the type of job that is required today.
Frankly, I feel that in today’s environment, it is much better to become self-employed, which is what Friedman basically determined as well. I have a lot of different businesses, all online, and all produce income for me. None of them are a super huge business that would be enough income to support my family, but when all combined, these businesses provide me with an excellent living. All of my businesses are internet based businesses. In all, I have about 30 different businesses. I have never spent more than about $100 to start any single businesses. Heck, almost anybody could come up with $100 to start a business. Truth is, a lot of people think you need thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to start a new business. It simply is untrue.
In his column, Friedman wrote:
My generation had it easy. We got to “find” a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to “invent” a job. (Fortunately, in today’s world, that’s easier and cheaper than ever before.) Sure, the lucky ones will find their first job, but, given the pace of change today, even they will have to reinvent, re-engineer and reimagine that job much more often than their parents if they want to advance in it.
Exactly! Bingo! Today, as I said, and as Friedman also said… in today’s world it is relatively easy and cheap to invent a job. We have the Internet at our fingertips, and even if only a small percentage of people need a service that we can provide, with a worldwide audience it is possible (maybe probable) that we can make tens of thousands of dollars per year from this tiny niche that we can carve out on the Internet. In fact, the smaller the demand, possibly the more we will make. How can that be? Because, if the demand is tiny, the competition will also be tiny. If you have a product or service that only a few hundred people in the world would be interested in, the odds that you will have much competition are also very small. Many people think that a product or service with only a tiny demand is doomed to failure. I think the opposite. My experience has proven me to be correct too.
So, think about it. Do you need a job? Not making enough money? Got laid off from your old job? Going out and asking for jobs at other companies is a losing strategy in the 21st Century. No, think of 4 or 5 products or services that you can offer online. Maybe the products or services are all related, meaning that a single website might be all that you need. Spend $100 and put up that website, and get to business. Promote yourself on Facebook, Twitter and through other social media sites. If you have ideas for 4 or 5 unrelated products, put up 4 or 5 different websites. You can do it for less than $300 or so. It might take a while, but the money will start rolling in if you are doing it right. No matter how small your niche. How do I know that it will work? Well, it’s not for sure, but I do feel that the odds are in your favor. What I know is that I have seen this strategy work over and over again for me. I think it will for you too.
One thing is for sure… you’ll never know unless you try.