Attention: you may want to consider becoming an entrepreneur
I am sure you have noticed that the world has changed. In spite of the fact that London is heaving (restaurants full, shops full, theatres full), travel over the Easter week end was its usual hectic experience, property prices in the south east just keep on going up, and Nissan announced it would invest in a new car plant in the UK, we need to accept that the economy, as we came to depend on it, may not recover for several years. Strong growth, low unemployment, competition for graduates, money to mend roads, remove graffiti, and plant flowers…all of that is a thing of the past for now – and probably for a long time to come. The UK is not alone. All over the world, even in China, charitable donations are drying up, unemployment is high, particularly among young people, growth forecasts are depressing and real inflation – those of us who buy food are acutely aware of this – is soaring. If you own a home and are debt free: great. You can pull your horns in, stop going on expensive holidays and learn to cook lentils. If you don’t own a home, you may never own one. If you are in debt, you may never get out of it. And if you are a graduate?
Think very hard.
If you are a graduate and you have expectations of choosing where you work when you graduate, think again. The days of graduates being wooed are over. Five years ago, a graduate at a top university may have had five or six job offers, many of which came with signing packages, excellent salaries, the promise of annual pay rises over the rate of inflation, and annual bonuses. Today a graduate is lucky to get an interview, let alone a job. Young people all over the world are having to re-frame their futures. The idea that they will have a career is laughable (to them, you understand) when they cannot even get a job in their area of expertise. Completing unpaid internship after unpaid internship is not delivering a paid position, applications and letters go unanswered and the milk round continues to be depressingly thin of potential employers.
Think very hard.
If you are looking for work you may need to consider, possibly for the first time, setting up and running your own business. It’s not as hard as you think to set up and run a business although it is hard to run a successful one. The important thing to hold on to is that you do not have to be a techie or a financial engineer. What you do have to do is offer solutions to problems in such a way that people will pay you for it. Your interests, passions, and skills will determine what problems you solve and how you solve them. Your individuality and personality – if you allow them to shine through – will guarantee that your business cannot be copied for the simple reason that you are unique.
If you are the kind of person who seeks to resolve problems rather than living with them you should become an entrepreneur. If your main interest is money you can set up a purely commercial enterprise. If your main interest is changing the world you can set up a social enterprise. Practically, the challenge is exactly the same.
Look around you – the world is far from perfect. Every single day you spend 24 hours interacting with people, products and services. There is room for improvement in how we feel about ourselves, others, and the physical world with which we interact. Find the intersection points – between people, between products, between services, and between people, products and services and you will find opportunities to improve the world that nobody will have discovered, through which you can change the world, and from which you can earn a living.
Earn your own bread. Better still, earn some virtuous bread.