Oh, the choices we make…
Today we continue in our Self-Employment Equals Independence series by addressing what types of criteria one should consider when electing to add a facet of self-employment to their life.
First of all, allow me to reiterate that I understand that it isn’t realistic for someone to just instantly switch from working for someone else to working for themselves. To such persons I would implore that they at least commit to adding a facet of self-employment to their life. Add a way
that you can produce a necessary good or service to others and earn money from doing so—even if it’s on a very part-time basis. In such a case, I’m not concerned so much with the amount of time one invests, so much as I am the fact that they know that if something were to drastically change, they would have a simple “Plan B” to fall back on. In my opinion, this is critical in order to have true independence from vulnerabilities.
So what should folks consider when stretching their entrepreneurial muscles? Here are my hard rules:
1) It must be enjoyable: There are many opportunities out there that can earn you some respectable sums of money. But I’ve earned those sums before; and I have made only enough to get by. I assure you that when I work at something that I love and enjoy, so long as my basic needs are met, I’m much, much happier.
2) Meet a REAL need: Identify a need, and then meet that need. I also always ask myself if what I’m doing is meaningful to my community. If can meet both of those needs, then I’m most assuredly content with what I’m doing. Truthfully, there has never been a more simple yet successful formula for entrepreneurial success. If you can’t see how people would need your product or service, you won’t be very convincing in entreating others to do business with you. Additionally, in considering this need, may I suggest that you focus on tangible asset production rather than just services? I’m not saying that services do not fill a need. But if I had my druthers, I would steer the most of entrepreneurial pursuits towards tangible good production/sales OR the services which FIX/REPAIR such tangible goods that people need everyday. Here’s why.
Over the last two years, the amount of U.S. exports has declined consistently. Why? Because we have less in the form of tangible goods that the rest of the world needs, after all, you don’t export “services.” This is indicative of the problem we have of not producing as much as we used to, and that we’re cut off with limited access to business capital lending. In 1970 about 1 in 4 American workers had jobs in the manufacturing sector. By 2005 that number dropped to 1 in ten. We’ve gone from manufacturing of real goods –with manufacturing being our flagship enterprise—to now becoming the world's beast of financial services. Yup. The U.S. is now the kingpin of world financial services. (And we’re doing that so very well, right? *gasp*) The most significant issue with that is that services are not tangible. They are not necessary in all conditions of life elsewhere in the world.
Financial services in particular do not meet any of the most basic of human needs. Unfortunately, regardless of the number of financial services companies that we create here, we cannot escape indisputable laws of independence. “A country that makes nothing will inevitably amount to nothing.”—Patrick Buchanan The lack of our willingness and capability to produce real, necessary items, has manifested itself dramatically in our economic state. For example, my husband specifically chose to focus on the sale of preparedness goods because he knew that worst case scenario, he’d simply have more supplies on hand that he needed for the care of his own family. A person focusing on the sale of an obscure, one-time service, would not be as fortunate if things were to get tough.
Mind you, I’m not saying that tangible goods are the only option, I’d be happy if any of you wrote me and told me that you bailed on the job to pursue your self-employment full time—regardless of what it was that you were doing. I’m just saying that a business which deals in tangible goods that are needed by others are the epitome of the best option for entrepreneurs.
Having said that though, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring attention to the fact that even a choice to deal in tangible goods can still be improved upon. For example, making jewelry, selling cosmetics, or selling fuel additives may earn money. But if the fit hits the shan, being stuck with a bunch of jewelry or makeup someday would not help you thrive in such a scenario. If that is your choice, your passion, and your enjoyment, then be sure that you keep as little inventory on hand as you can get away with and invest your personal monies that will ensure you thrive should a serious crisis ever manifest itself. Still, it’s a heck of a lot easier to sell jewelry at a garage sale than graphic design abilities. So be sure that you shore up your own personal strengths to help compensate for those vulnerabilities.
3) Lastly, I recommend that whatever you do, you start small. Don’t go into debt to start a business. Business debt is the NUMBER one reason why small businesses fail. I don’t care if you are offered 15 or 30 day terms from your suppliers. Don’t take that offer. Pay as you go. Grow only as fast as you can literally afford to pay to grow along the way. Contrary to the stupidity we see paraded across our televisions regularly, it makes little sense to solve economic problems by adding more debt to our life. Self-employment pursuits are about independence. Don’t’ shackle your independence by marrying to slavery first. It’s obviously not a good way to start any profitable relationship. Understand that your greatest asset is your physical WORK and your knowledge about the skill or asset that you’ll be offering. Work with those two assets first and then use money that you earn to expand from there.
Bottom line, I strongly implore folks to consider a self-employment route for income. We simply can’t wait around for the government to create a job for us. Governments can’t create jobs. American entrepreneurs do. In fact, numerous studies have found that throughout the last 40 years, entrepreneurs created over 80% of all NEW jobs! So, if you want to make your own family more secure, pursue this route. In the process you’ll also be adding to the safety and economic strength of your nation.
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