by Debbie Ruston, Columnist & Featured Contributor
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]HERE IS A MISCONCEPTION in society that we experience in our individual conversations with family and friends, in our educational system and in the workplace. Society has conditioned to believe the only way to work is to work for an employer, believing this is “security”. During the industrial age, companies needed workers to produce their product. Providing attractive salaries, and benefit plans allowed these companies to attract those that bought into this need for “security” and created a mindset that one couldn’t possibly look after themselves the way a company would. A lot of fear and dependence was instilled throughout the employee workforce.
This fear and dependence has been passed through generations now, and people have come to believe the only way to work is to be hired by an employer. People have been downsized, laid off, etc., over the last several years and many just keep putting out resumes waiting for someone to save them, instead of stepping into the personal responsibility of saving themselves by creating their own work. These very qualified people take on somewhat of a “sales” role attempting to sell potential employers on what they have to offer. Very few people recognize a layoff or downsizing as an opportunity to branch out on their own and create their own work, even though they have experience, knowledge, expertise, and skills. They attempt to SELL their value to a potential employer, yet THEY have not sold themselves of their true potential and value. Most don’t believe in their ability to create their own work. This is a waste of human potential and closes the door on seeing opportunities that are right in front of them.
We are NOT in the industrial age any longer. What worked for previous generations, is not working for today’s youth. It’s been stated that over 65% of the work that will be done by today’s youth hasn’t been invented yet…..and our educational system, parents, career advisors, etc., who are all “well meaning” don’t consider the idea of encouraging entrepreneurship.
An entrepreneur THINKS very differently than an employee. Educators don’t consider entrepreneurship because they themselves are employees…..you can’t teach or recommend something you know nothing about. This is not to make educators wrong, but to point out there is a missing link in education that is NOT being addressed.
Take a moment and think about this: If over 65% of the work that will be done by today’s youth hasn’t been invented yet….WHY are we not assisting our youth in finding the opportunities and become the CREATORS of their future work? Instead of teaching the same thing (go to school, get a degree, get a job) we must realize the wisdom in Einstein’s words “doing the same things expecting different results is the definition of insanity”.
We can clearly see with the millennial generation that this formula of going to school, getting a degree and getting a job is not working for many. We have an out of control student debt situation and high under-employment.
There are some options in higher ed to take entrepreneurial programs, but these are still missing the mark. It isn’t enough to learn how to write a business plan, how to obtain financing, etc. While these are important, we can look to people like Richard Branson, who has stated, if a business plan won’t fit on the back of an envelope, it’s rubbish. Although simple advice, instead of taking advice and learning from some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet, most hold more faith in traditional education being taught from theory by people that have never been entrepreneurs. Think about this for a moment – Why would any educator, parent, family member etc., ever encourage entrepreneurship if they have a fear and deep belief that the only way to work is for an employer who provides “job security”
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS JOB SECURITY TODAY!!! Postal workers, educators, health care workers, etc. who all thought they were starting careers that would take them to retirement are finding themselves downsized, laid off and having to re-invent themselves. We live in a changed world. We either recognize this and think differently about our work, or we become victims. When we know something isn’t working, it is ridiculous to pass that thinking onto our youth so they can repeat the same pattern of insanity and frustration.
Gallup states that over 87% of employees are disengaged. If you speak to 5 of your closest friends, how many would say they LOVE their job and feel fulfilled, and how many would be frustrated, stressed out and just waiting for Friday. When we encourage youth to think and learn about entrepreneurship as a viable option, it allows them to identify and follow their passions. When you are doing something that has meaning to you it doesn’t feel like work, which reduces stress, frustration, and creates more contentment, fulfillment and happiness in an individual.
Realizing that entrepreneurship IS a viable option, gives more control, so they are not at the “effect” of downsizing, underemployment, layoffs. When you develop entrepreneurial thinking, you are not sitting by the phone waiting for a call back from someone that might “grant” you a job. You are excited, you are researching, learning and finding ways to make your dreams a reality, without being dependent on an employer.
When you work for an employer, you are building THEIR dreams, not your own. How many employees complain about how much a company is making or how much an owner is making, yet they have not taken the personal responsibility that an owner has taken. They are worker bees, and they are simply fueling the “hive” for the owner. It may sound harsh but this is reality. You either create your own work, or you build someone else’s dream that had the courage to take that step of starting their own business.
Encouraging entrepreneurship builds personal responsibility, leadership, and decision making. When you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you will always figure out a way to create revenues, even if things change. You tap into the creative side of your brain, even if you didn’t previously know you were creative. I used to define myself as very analytical, and not creative. Because I have worked on my mindset consistently during my 30 years as an entrepreneur, I have learned to tap into my creative side of my brain, which has been incredible to discover. We all have so much hidden potential we don’t even know we possess, and we can never discover it if we stay in our comfort zones and buy into mediocrity.
Many entrepreneurial ventures can also be done from home, which allows parents to work around their families. As someone who has lived this option for 30 years, I cannot recommend it enough. I started my first business from home to be with our children when they were young. As they grew I quickly realized that it wasn’t just important to be home when they are little….our kids always need us….the needs simply change as they grow. Now as my own children are grown and we are planning our daughter’s wedding, I am reminded again how important it has been for me to work from home around my families needs. As we have future grandchildren, again, I will be here for them. You cannot put a price on this and the closeness it brings to a family. I am so grateful I took that step 30 years ago, and now, my daughter is following in those footsteps, working for herself from home primarily. When they have children, she will have the beautiful experience of being there for their kids and continuing to build her business, instead of having a sitter raise them, as most parents believe is their only choice.
Some entrepreneurs vision creates work for others. Some are happy to just run a small business that would pay them roughly what they would make as an employee and give them enough work to keep them as busy as they want to be. There are so many options. Not everyone has to be a Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, but there is something of value that everyone can offer. Even something as simple as selling crafts on Etsy gives a person control over creating their own work. It is not dependent on where you live, but you can tap into a global audience. To have blinders on and not encourage entrepreneurship as a viable option is doing our youth a dis-service. We owe it to our youth to put outdated thinking behind us, and embrace entrepreneurship as a viable option.