Pundits love to talk about entrepreneurism and community, but only in the abstract. Few if any actually explain how to become self-employed or build a community, because the conventional mainstream pundit has never hired a single person with his/her own money or struggled to build a productive network of social capital from scratch.
Drew Sample and I discuss self-employment in Two Beers With Charles Part One (1:07) and community and the marketplace in Two Beers With Charles Part Two (1:09). These are topics we’ve discussed in previous podcasts, but there is more fine-grained discussion of the nitty-gritty here–developing multiple income streams, etc.–as Drew was recently laid off from his Corporate America job.
In a typical 20-minute podcast, the host and I will cover specific topics and questions. In these podcasts, Drew and I have the luxury of conversation: the topics shift and each of us allows the other to fill out a complete thought or story. (He’s in Ohio, I’m on the Left Coast. He’s a youngish 30, I’m an oldish 63.)
The grim reality is self-employment and small business are in long-term decline. It’s increasingly challenging to establish financial independence via self-employment or your own enterprise:
I’ve written dozens of posts on employment, self-employment, small business, the middle class, automation and the fast-changing economy. Here are a few that are relevant to my conversations with Drew:
The Decline of Self-Employment and Small Business (April 22, 2013)
The Death-Spiral of American Entrepreneurism (December 10, 2015)
What’s Eroding the Middle Class? (January 2016)
The Python That Ate Your Job (December 11, 2013)
How to Escape the Purgatory of Minimum Wage/Part-Time Jobs (March 17, 2016)
The Changing World of Work 3: “Full-Stack” Skills (April 15, 2015)
Mobile Creatives (May 1, 2014)
Crisis of Meaning = Crisis of Work (December 23, 2016)
The Ten Best Employers To Work For (March 28, 2013)
The Alienation of Work (April 15, 2014)
The key to becoming financially independent is self-employment (owning your own labor and enterprise), and the key to self-employment is becoming a Mobile Creative. The Mobile Creative credo is simple: trust your network, not the corporation or the state. The Mobile Creative seeks to develop multiple income streams he/she owns and controls, and is alert to the risks and opportunities of a fast-changing economy.
Rather than put all one’s eggs in one basket (specialization), the Mobile Creative seeks to develop a diverse range of skills, including the eight essential skills I cover in my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.
My credo of financial independence is: focus not on retiring comfortably, but on working comfortably.
Having multiple income streams is not only less risky than depending on one job or skill–it’s also more rewarding/enjoyable.
One key to diversifying income is developing a network that supports your enterprise–a community. Drew describes the process of building a network/community in these podcasts. You show up, you help others, you share what you’ve learned and you learn from others.
Another key is identifying what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. Self-knowledge is an essential part of self-employment. Experimentation is part of this process. The key to learning and eventual success is to try a variety of things and fail often, fail fast.
There is a way forward for those who’ve been laid off. Our education system has failed to pass on the entrepreneurial skills and mindsets needed to be become self-employed and financially independent, so we have to learn everything on our own.
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