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.
Cheer up! Two thumb ups for you and your family success, Bob.
Loell Anthony Erecre
what has the world gotten into? startups / small businesses, Ideas become the standard currency. which is.. ah..well great!! 🙂
interesting article bob. and I agree creating your own job through having a business has always been my thought. I am sorry but I can only think one way for an online business and that involves at least a few thousand dollars investment in merchandise. I know the internet opens up all kinds of new opportunities that in my’ when i was much younger “working days, was not yet possible. i cannot think of anyway the internet could benefit me living here in america and I have a few ideas for the Philippines that i would say may or may not work and with having to have an investment. I guess i am far from being onboard with the internet business opportunities.
sorry i cant grasp that. how would i sell merchandise I dont have? and i cant grasp the whole ebook thing. to me it is like selling air. im sorry…..just dont get it
It is not selling air, it is selling information. If I sell you a book that shows you how to earn $10k, is that not worth ten to twenty dollars? It is not a new concept. Selling information has been done for hundreds of years.
As for merchandise, yes I sell stuff that I don’t have every single day. When somebody buys it from me, I go buy it so that I can send it to them. Nothing revolutionary about that. It is a simple thing to do.
yes i thought that would be your answer. i cant buy information….i have to find what is free. or i figure it out for myself. no one would want my information. hehe and that makes nothing i can plan for here in missouri that I can do when I get there. guess I will forget the whole online idea.
Actually, I never suggested you should sell information. You said that you could think of no way to earn money on the internet without spending tgmtpamdp , I was only offering one example of how it could be done. Truly there are thousands of ways to do it.
I agree with you.. “such (political) discussions rarely change any opinions, they only tend to lead to flaming, fighting, and nothing productive for the most part”.
Thanks for sharing what you have encountered along the way while doing some readings. More power to you Bob and keep on sharing the entrepreneurial topics. I’ll be always your fan.
Thank you so much, Jojo, I appreciate your kind words.
Good Job! Wonderful!
Great piece Bob. Co workers and I always have conversation of having another source of income. We all agree easiest way is through online. you have to know, have yo try whether through selling, writing, inventing an app. and you’re right about promoting through social media. I should have done that long time ago. But have day job so I’m always careful with using social media. Don’t want to quit day job for now but thinking. You think food blog/ critique type of website is good?
Hi Sugar. Thanks, I am happy that you like the article. I think it is tough to make much money with a food review blog. Too much competition out there, but you never know if you will be the one to hit it.
Yeah. you’re right about that. I’ll just sell old stuff..online. VHS anyone? he he Thanks for the tips and thoughts
Very interesting topic and comments Bob.
I agree with your thinking and those of Friedman, times have changed radically.
For most, jobs for life have gone the way of the Dodo !
You don’t have to give up your day job to start your own business, start it part time and build it until you can make a full time living at it. That’s exactly what i did some years back before the net existed. You just have to be dedicated and sacrifice your leisure time by working at your part time business evenings and weekends.
Wasn’t too difficult for me as i had no family commitments, loved working and easily got bored when i wasn’t, lol.
Nowadays niche markets are the way forward for the little guy (even some bigger guys), you can’t compete with mass markets or multinationals unless you have a fortune to throw at it.