In Western culture, from about the time a person is a teenager he or she starts hearing the question, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” No matter how the questions is actually phrased it boils down to asking, “How will you earn money when you’re an adult?”
Leaving aside the pitfalls of choosing a career path at 17 years of age or so, there is the issue of a massive educational and social system that has been designed to create employees. Obedient employees who follow instructions.
I suppose that could be good for the guys who own the biggest factories and the biggest cubicle farms in a given place, but how good is it for all the individual people with their own hopes and aspirations?
Even a solid, lucrative degree from a great university is, at the end of the day, just another ticket to be an employee. A software engineer can earn good money. A woman with a master’s degree in applied mathematics can earn good money. So can a chemist. But almost always as a replaceable employee cog in somebody else’s giant business machine.
All of the above can earn money. But there is a distinction between all employees of existing companies and one other category of people: the people who can make money. And by that I mean, the people who can start at zero – no product, no service, no company that even exists, and go from that to a thriving, income-generating operation that makes money where none was being made before.
I think that’s one of the greatest skills in the world. And the good news is, it’s not hard to develop. The reason so few develop it is, from the time they are teenagers, they are pushed toward being an employee. Hey, I’ve got nothing against being an employee if it’s a person’s dream life. A dream life is a subjective thing and every person is entitled to define his own.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
To be clear, I’m also not saying anything negative about work of any kind that is productive (ie. non-coercive). I’m only referring to the contemporary refrain of “jobs, jobs, jobs” by politicians and protesters as if it is the only way a human can provide for himself.
There is another option. Rather than waiting for someone else to find a way to make money, and then hoping the boss will invite them to be employees, it’s increasingly easy for an individual to simply create a small online enterprise and not need a boss.
It used to be a lot harder. But today, with all the technologies that shrink the world and connect us, it’s orders of magnitude easier, faster, less expensive, and less risky. And it’s still one of the most magnificent skills to possess.
The reality is millions of jobs are going away and not coming back. There are a dozen factors driving this but none of them is under the control of the little guy. The news is filled with reports of giant companies laying off thousands and even tens of thousands of employees. Even low level government employees in some sectors are getting laid off so the guys at the top can get their bigger share at the public trough.
Again, there is zero the little guy can do to reverse this. So employees are very vulnerable.
What can you do when you can’t earn money? You can make money! And once you learn how your life will never be the same. There is a freedom and independence that comes with running your life the way you want and not being beholden to someone whose signature is on your paycheck.
The online marketplace is making this transition easier, cheaper and less risky than it’s ever been. It’s still early days and the opportunities are plentiful for those who get in earlier than the majority who are still waiting for their local politicians to create more jobs, jobs, jobs. But politicians are professional liars. There are no new jobs coming. Just the opposite, in fact.
Most people are encouraged to aspire to be employees. But we’re living in a very difficult era for employees. Jobs are disappearing and not being replaced with an equal or greater number of new jobs. Technology and globalization promise to keep this trend going. Politicians and protestors are unlikely to reverse this. But it’s also never been easier to make money as an online business owner, instead of earn money as an employee.
Toward your personal freedom,
Pete Sisco & Connie Brentford