By “Job Less” I don’t mean “No” jobs, I mean “Less” Jobs – at least as we know them. You see, technology is eliminating jobs in nearly every industry at an accelerating pace. Where there is crisis, however, there is also great opportunity. I will talk more about this in a minute, but here are some of the realities we are facing:
- Software is replacing accountants and analysts
- Ecommerce is replacing traditional retail employees
- Self-checkout kiosks are replacing food service personnel
- Storage and retrieval systems are replacing warehouse workers
- Robots are replacing factory and security employees
- Online courses are replacing brick and mortar schools
- Delivery drones are impacting the shipping industry
- Smart cars will change the transportation industry
Just in the past few months Wendy’s announced the addition of self-serve kiosks in 6,000 stores; the Navy introduced a ship that can go miles out to sea without any sailors on board; and the massive manufacturing plant in China that makes Apple and Samsung products replaced 60,000 employees with robots. So when our political candidates say they will bring back our manufacturing jobs, it isn’t going to happen. While some companies are “re-shoring,” they are building fully automated factories.
So what do we do about our future? We create our own jobs and companies, just like everyone did before the rise of large corporations. To better understand this process, I rode my bike 4,000 miles across America and interviewed 100 remarkable entrepreneurs who have successfully merged livelihood and lifestyle in places they want to live. These business leaders are perfect role models for our new economy because they have created jobs for themselves and others in places where there are no jobs. Here are some of the guiding principles they teach us:
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- Take full responsibility for your own future
- Find needs you are uniquely qualified to meet
- Build a brain trust of mentors to help with your launch
- Maximize all non-financial resources available to you
- Work with potential customers to create your products
- Make a few, sell a few, learn a lot, and keep improving
- Exceed expectations to create a community of loyal fans
- Create additional revenue streams from related products
- Serve the broader community in which your business operates
Creating our own jobs and companies is easier than ever for several reasons: (1) there is a growing preference for smaller companies rather than large corporations, (2) powerful technologies for doing business are available to everyone, (3) new financing formats like crowd funding allow us to test products before we build them, (4) we can now reach markets far beyond our geographical location, and (5) people are seeking high-touch experiences to counteract the alienation of high-tech living.
Entrepreneurial skills are the key to success in our growing job-less economy. The future belongs to those who can innovate, solve problems, meet needs, create value, build communities, change directions, and occasionally re-invent themselves. Having worked with hundreds of startup companies, I believe these skills can be learned and applied by anyone with passion, tenacity, humility, and a commitment to succeed. While the future of work is uncertain, these are exciting times for aspiring entrepreneurs and business builders.