Why it's never been a better time to start a business

Lift off!

It’s ironic that governments around the world are clamouring to support large companies via the promise of jobs given that this is the greatest time in human history to start a business.

Anyone who has a had a crack at starting a venture knows the idea is the easy bit. Ideas are bit like water, absolutely vital, but there is no shortage. The hard part has always been gathering access to resources, and then compiling the resources into a system of revenue. Just think through what we needed in the past to make a business a reality:

Finance – without rich parents, friends or some security for the bank it was over before we started.

Manufacturing – how the heck would you build a facility to make stuff? There was no ‘open factories’ just a little while ago.

Retail – other than opening a store, it was difficult to get on the shelves. Especially in small volumes. Stores wanted mass market products, support by advertising.

Promotion – advertising was barely affordable other than bills posted on local walls. Newspapers, radio and TV – all too expensive for a startup.

It’s no wonder we got told to get a good education, go to university and get a stable job with a multinational corporation. Which, is still an option…. but personally, I think we are all capable of more than that. I think the gift of access we’ve all been given via technology is too precious to waste. Just look at all the barriers to entry which have now crumbled in less than a generation:

Alibaba has more than 4 million factories we can access to get a our dreams made into a physical reality.

E-commerce stores have never been easier to set up, no tech skills required.

We can connect with customers on a zillion platforms – Ebay / Etsy / App store / Facebook / Instagram / Youtube and endless others

We can get funded based on the strength of our work, passion and ideas, not how rich our contacts are.

We can access freelance workers easy on line, work from home or anywhere, and we can start part time, an hour a day instead of wasting the night watching TV shows which teach us how to make a better soufflé .

Why this matters: A.I. is coming and it WILL remove many jobs including white collar work – so we need a rebooted entrepreneurial ethic to invent our own financial futures and create new industries.

If you want more inspiration on your possible future – then check out the first chapter of my upcoming book – The Lessons School Forgot –  you’ll totally dig it.

Why we need to stop using the word Job

With every single policy statement of our, and any democratic Government, I can tell you what the proposed objective of every single one of them will be:

Jobs & Growth.

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For me, it is heartbreaking to hear this mantra still being chanted as some kind of plan for the future, especially given the industrial age is officially over. We don’t need to provide people with jobs – we need to provide them with the tools and skills of adaptation, because increasingly, jobs will have shorter and shorter life cycles.

The era of lifelong jobs, lifelong careers or life long anything is over. Quite frankly, jobs are not the solution. We are very quickly evolving into an economy driven by independent actors, attracting revenue from multiple sources. In the future, everyone will become ‘Projecteers’. We are already starting to shift inside and outside of companies, providing skills for projects. The best way to de-risk anything financial is to have many sources of revenue – not just one, which is what a job is. Having a job is the riskiest financial strategy anyone can have. Anyone who wants to thrive in the new economy needs to be totally self-reliant.

The good news? It has never been a better time in history to get on the path to independence. To learn and to reinvent ourselves. The first thing we need to do in every industrialised economy is remove the word ‘job’ from our collective parlance. This word is responsible for limiting the possibilities of millions of people – it steals from the breadth of possibility. It says: be subservient to someone else. It says:

  • Let someone else provide opportunities for you.
  • Let someone else decide what you’re worth.
  • Let someone else decide if you’re qualified.
  • Let someone else decide if they need you.
  • Let someone else decide when to replace you with Artificial Intelligence.

The list is endless, but the point is that it outsources responsibility to an economic machine we have no control over. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the government came out and said, “We are going to make it easier than ever to start a business”?

A better approach to life is to think in terms of Revenue – how much do I need, where can I get it and what value can I create for others so I can get my fair share. Everyone’s economic future is not based on the job they have, but the revenue they create for themselves. And the government…well, they just want tax payers and centralised simplicity where they give large corporations what they want so long as they provide jobs for tax payers. We all deserve more than that. We deserve an independent future where the government provides resources for people to invent new industries and revenue streams for a modern economy. We deserve new systems that enable nimble skill providers to adapt to what the economy and businesses need. Jobs are something people had when Henry Ford ran the show, and the last time I looked… Ford wasn’t a company anyone revered.

If you like this kind of thinking about the future, then I’d highly recommend reading my new book – The Lessons School Forgot. You can download the first chapter here free. It’s out in June and is a manifesto on how to financially future-proof your life in a rapidly changing world.

Why we should worry less about the robots, and more about ourselves

As if concocted by some kind of Industrial Séance, the past 100 years has turned people in the developed world into a cohort of economic outpatients. We’ve abdicated our entire financial responsibility to institutions who must now provide us with a stable job, a career for life, increasing wages, and skills that are relevant in perpetuity without the requirement of an upgrade. A strange desire given that this has never happened before.

A close look at history any time before the 1950’s, and we can see we’ve never had any of those things as a certainty of life, quite the opposite in fact. The level of stability, of economic growth and the increase in living standards we’ve experience in the past 70 years is unparalleled in recorded history. For all we know it could be a fortuitous anomaly, a once off that we’ve been lucky enough to experience first hand. But we’re not thankful, instead those who’ve been the major beneficiaries are demanding in advance that the good life not be taken away. That the life we live is some kind of right, a standard we are now entitled to, without any heavy lifting required on our behalf. While very few indeed are asking the resources needed so they can get to work on personal transformation.

Automation & robots

This kind of upheaval isn’t new either. Every period of humanity which found itself in the middle of a technological shift, had those who were disenfranchised and displaced. Some even had entire their civilizations destroyed based on technological lag. Given our current global and economic interdependence this is an unlikely outcome, but yes, the technological shift is big, the biggest in many generations, and yes, it’s happening much quicker than all the others have. The challenge with technological shifts, is that there isn’t any lessons on how to deal with them. It’s not in the text book. We instead must rely on those old school skills of ingenuity and adaptability.

But this time, there is one important difference.  For the first time we have a choice on whether or not we adapt. Every other time if we didn’t have the resources at our disposal, coping in the new system wasn’t just difficult, it was nigh on impossible. This time we’ve been given the dignity of choice. We can prepare, we can up-skill, and we can participate in the shift to the greatest period of entrepreneurship we’ve ever known. We can relearn the art of self reliance. We can do all these things, mostly for free.

Hence there are two approaches we can take to sure up our uncertain futures.

The common approach: We can wait for the Government to fix things, hope for a universal basic income, regulate against technology which destroys our industry’s business model, support populist and protectionist policy makers, and pretend inevitable technologies can be stopped to maintain our status quo.

or

The better approach: We can start today, firstly by admitting what might change in our industry, our economy and our future. Then, we can quickly start working with our communities to create an infrastructure (Physical and Informational) which provides all of us access to the tools and skills we’ll need to help shape the future economy. We can lead others and inspire them to believe they can adapt by sharing what we learn. We can meet with like minds creating income producing ideas, and expanding industries we couldn’t even imagine yesterday. We can decide that hoping everything will be Ok, isn’t a plan, and remember that we aren’t the first generation to face a challenge which might effect how we work and live. But mostly, we can sleep better at night knowing we aren’t helpless outpatients, but the architects of the future we want to live in.

New book – The Lessons School Forgot – click here for free advance chapter

Low tech jobs in a high tech world

look alike robot

The robots are taking over. Seriously, they are. They are taking a lot of the crappy and dangerous jobs we’ve done in the past. They’re taking a few of the good ones too. So here’s a thought, why not try and own some robots? Maybe save some money with your robot – oh, like your phone which saves you buying music…

Here’s another thought experiment: If a person has $100 in their wallet, and instead of spending 30 of those dollars on a CD, where does the money go? Does it just evaporate? Of course not. Money doesn’t evaporate, it just changes places. It is relatively easy to see where it will dry up and where it will get invested instead. The transition is obvious to people who pay attention to the world they live in. Good news, that new place where old new money gets spent also has new new jobs associated with it – most will be low tech. They always are.

Here’s another little known fact – the worlds most profile tech company ‘Google’ is not the nerd nest of techies you think it is. More than half of its global workforce are sales people. Yep, that same person who would normally have sold TV ads, cars, vacuums, real estate and health insurance is now a sales person at Google.

Humans invent jobs as new industries and technologies emerge. We surround the new thing with people – it’s like a force of gravity. People aggregate around money and commerce. And yes, some good paying jobs do disappear, but some other high paying ones arrive too.

If you want to be on the high paying end of things, here’s what to do, go out and learn some new skills few people have, there are enormous skill gaps in the market today. And these skills are free to learn on line. Here’s a website I love called the ‘No Excuses List’ – which is full of things you can learn for free. Skills companies and people need today!  If you make the effort to reinvent yourself in times of great change, the prize is big, I know I’ve done it myself.

But of course there’s a catch, I can’t do your push ups for you.

Yes, the robots will take your job, but…

Bison Hunter

…there are not that many bison hunters any more.

This is a very short way of saying that all jobs eventually get replaced by technology. Technology will take the role of many white collar jobs, just like machines have taken away many blue collar jobs, just like the plough took away many farming jobs. Technological Unemployment will always be a fixture in human existence – and always has been. It just so happens that it doesn’t sell newspapers (or provide click bait) to tell the truth that new jobs will be created. But it seems like a week doesn’t go past without a new report flagging the end of millions of jobs. So here’s a counter mind jam of some new jobs recently created that no one is writing economic reports on:

UX Designer, App developer, Drone Pilot, Crowd Funding Advisor, Smart Phone Game Developer, Blogger, Podcaster, Social Media Specialist, Wikipedia Moderator, Content Curator, Community Manager, Uber Driver, Airbnb Host, Web Videographer, Youtube Content Creator, Vine Artist, e-Book Publisher, Bitcoin Trader, Bitcoin Miner, E-Commerce Consultant, SEO Specialist, Genetics Counsellor, Sustainability Advisor, Citizen Journalist, MOOCs tutor, Big Data Analyst, Cloud Services Specialist…

And this list is just small sample set from my perspective. I’m sure your industry or worldview could make the list much larger. In fact, there are currently more than 500,000 app developers in the USA alone. A job that didn’t exist pre smart phone.

A simple economic fact is that if a person has $100 in their wallet, it still gets spent. In 1995 $10 of that $100 might have went into getting filmed developed. Now it goes elsewhere, maybe towards the cost of a smart phone monthly fee. The money always gets spent, saved or invested. The allocation just changes. And so do the jobs around those expenditure allocations. If you want to be future proof, I suggest you pay close attention to what your friends are spending their time and money on. It’s always where tomorrows jobs and startup opportunities lie.

The crazy thing about all those ‘new jobs’ above is this: They are all learnable, and mostly for free. All you need is these two assets: (1) The ability to read. (2) A connection to the internet (I’m guessing you have these). But yes, they all take effort. And no, the Government or your Boss won’t save you, or pay you to learn any of them. No one can do your push ups for you. But if you’ll make the effort, the rewards are there. The new jobs, and more importantly ‘business opportunities’ around them are ripe in these realms and they often pay more than job X did yesterday. Guess who earns more: A small screen UX Designer, or a Graphic Designer doing page layouts for a print magazine? Same realm, but a different iteration and attitude to learning. It’s really just a choice between taking advantage of the opportunities, or wishing the world was like yesterday.

Yes, the pace of change is scary. Yes, things are changing at a rapid pace, but it’s never been more possible to up-skill, re-skill or new-skill in the history of humanity. So next time you read a report on the impending doom of your industry, job or financial future, just remember that it is your decision on how it will affect you.

New Book – The Great Fragmentation – out now.

the big job

I was having a discussion with a colleague about staffing at the most senior level of an organization. Non technical, Director and CEO level jobs. In fact the discussion I was having was with a CEO himself. What he said actually surprised me, especially given the level he is at in his personal career. First let me give a brief summary of what transpired.

We discussed a potential candidate for a role in a large corporation at 2 levels below the CEO. I retorted that this particular person we had in mind, was above that level, too senior and ready for a CEO job himself, and so he wouldn’t be interested, and that I thought he was ‘better’ than the role on offer. He disagreed. He said that this person wasn’t ready for a CEO role as he had not even held the role of director and it was too much of a leap…. the discussion kind of went around in circles as to what qualifies a person for the most senior job. His view was that the very top job in large companies was really only the domain of a special few. My point was that who the special few are is really an arbitrary decision made by the people who have the power to put people in positions….

In the qualitative arena of corporate positions there is no such thing as being qualified. Every time a person steps up or gets the opportunity to step up, is because someone in power handed it to them. Sure, they may have done well before but it’s not a guarantee of future performance. In fact, there are probably more examples of CEO’s doing bad jobs than there are of those doing terrific jobs. Especially given that most CEO’s didn’t build the business they are managing, they ‘inherited the corporate wealth’.

As far as I can tell it’s rather simple, and there are a few things that enable and facilitate people getting that big job:

  • The person needs to be good at speaking, presenting & selling the future, not necessarily making it happen.
  • The person needs to be smart, good at influencing others, but not necessarily a hard worker.
  • The person needs to ‘look the part’ – seem like they belong. Present and dress well.
  • The person needs to have seemingly ‘relevant experience’ in the same or a juxtaposed industry.
  • The person needs to look good on paper, be a justifiable choice to the decision maker(s).
  • The person needs someone to have had faith in them earlier in their career, promoting them to senior gigs before they look too old, or even when they looked surprisingly young – they need to be ‘picked’ and promoted. It makes them look more special or talented than the other people.
  • The person needs to play a good internal game, this matters much more than their actual output.
  • The person needs to not stick out as risk to the organisation, that way the decision makers wont be blamed if they turn out to be not so good.

Notice how none of these things actually guarantee the right person will get the job?

In fact, every job someone gets is based on the previous job someone else decided they deserve. Corporate climbers know this and leverage this through their entire career until they break through the glass barrier. They often then go on to earn millions for years to come trading themselves to various corporations, fooling the world that they are better, more qualified or more deserving to be in such positions. It’s just a game, but it’s not like football where the persons performance can be easily measured.

I’ve met plenty of great CEO’s (in fact the person I’m referencing at the start of this post, is the best I’ve ever met) and I’ve worked for plenty of duds too. So don’t ever let someone tell you that you are not ready, or qualified for anything. Remember that everyone who ever made that level didn’t get there because of how good they were, they got there because of how good people thought they might be, or who their friends were. An entrepreneur on the other hand, gets to where they deserve entirely on their own performance.

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You’re already an expert!

This is a guest post by Jared Shay, who recently decided being employed was for chumps and started walking his own path. He blogs with his brother Xavier about personal development and being awesome at two-shay.com.

The advice “everyone has something of value to give” used to crop up all the time in my morning feeds,  and it used to annoy the hell out of me. It was easy for all those successful internet folks to say it, they were travelling the world with nothing but a back pack and a laptop, or working with people who were at the top of their fields. It was obvious what their value to give was. What could I possibly do that would compare to that? I was always trying to think of that one big idea to set me apart. If I could find that, I’d have it made. I couldn’t find it though. It was my white whale.

You know who else had a white whale? Captain Ahab. His white whale was called Moby Dick and it bit one of his legs clean off. He spent years chasing after the thing so he could get his revenge. Eventually he caught up to big MD and decided to go toe-to-fin with it. Predictably the whale smoked him, and whilst he did get a few good hits in the whole thing makes you wonder—maybe Ahab’s obsession with finding that one big thing just wasn’t worth it. I got lucky. That could’ve been me—dragged into a watery grave by a whale. I realised I didn’t need to find that one big idea, I just needed to take stock of the life I had already and take notice of the things that I spend every second of every day either doing or thinking about doing. Things that I’d been doing so long they had become routine and boring to me, but were totally interesting to other people. As soon as I discovered this I realised why it was so easy for those annoying successful people. They didn’t start travelling the world or turning themselves into experts just to get readers or sell products—that’s just who they were already.

Let’s suppose Captain Ahab was alive today and he decided to forgive and forget all that whale business. He lead a pretty darn interesting life: He grew up as an orphan, began sailing at age eighteen, got a leg bitten off by a whale and in in forty years spent less than three on land. Now just try and tell me that if he started a blog that you wouldn’t want to read it, or that he couldn’t package together an international sailing guide, or fill a venue on a public speaking tour. He wouldn’t need to go out and find interesting things to do. Just from living his life he’d have all the material he’d ever need.

My life resume might not be quite as impressive but it still has plenty of things I can use to provide value to other people. I’m a musician who teaches and performs regularly, a huge personal development geek, and I exercise everyday. I’ve been cooking and eating vegetarian and vegan food for years. I got through a computer science degree without a computer, can juggle, have tutored maths, and have watched more professional Starcraft than just about anyone outside of South Korea. I’ve been doing most of these things my whole life, and that pretty much makes me an expert by default. Doesn’t mean I’m the best, but it does mean I can provide something of value to others.

I stopped looking for big ideas and starting using what I already had. I’d already done the hard work. I started blogging about personal development because I’ve spent years reading and practicing it; I began teaching drums because I’ve played the instrument my whole life; I help people learn to cook vegan food because that’s how I live. One out of these three is already profitable. These aren’t new or innovative ideas, but they’re backed with solid life experience.

Everyone’s lives are filled with things they can use to provide value to others. You don’t have to be the best, you only need to get out there and start sharing what you’ve got, even if you can’t immediately see where it’s going to lead.

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