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I’ve been meaning to write something on Fred Wilson‘s post last week on job losses here in the US, noting that the announcement last week of 75,000 jobs being wiped out in one day exceeded the amount of jobs he had helped create in 22 years of venture investing. Wow. He goes on to say that we need people going out on their own to help us get through this. I agree.
I think going out on your own can mean a lot of things, and doesn’t necessarily being an entrepreneur as most people think. You don’t have to know how to build a business or raise money or hire people, you have to know how to capitalize on your unique skills and abilities. You have to know how to find opportunities that exist right now in your life, all around you. I really liked this comment on Fred’s post elaborates on this better than I can:
An anecdote to illustrate the point of the awakening of entrepreneurial impulses in the population: a cab driver that took me to SFO airport from a recent JP Morgan Healthcare conference told me that he has been asking himself, what can he do better in this grim environment. His decision was to focus on nurturing and growing his local clientele, to increase their loyalty to him, and to bypass convention traffic, as it would not mean return business. – Now if everyone from cabbies to white collar folks is asking, what can they do better and how, wouldn’t that necessarily lead to a bump in productivity, perhaps an unexpectedly meaningful one? I hope so. Same for previous non-entrepreneurs becoming entrepreneurs – in some sense, it is a numbers game – if enough of them build highly scalable, fast growing businesses, VC-backed or bootstrapped, it might have a strong enough effect to at least dampen the fall we are in. I choose to remain a long-term optimist, if wounded at present.
I’ve been saying for a few years now that I think more and more people will eventually beome their own mini companies and create a world where we are more likely to be sole proprietors than employees. I think it’s likely that people will work on “projects” instead of working for companies in the near future. Think I’m crazy? This process has already started. You can see it on sites like elance.com, odesk.com, 99designs.com and many, many more. These sites are filled with very talented people who are building thriving businesses (some one man shops, some have several people) focused on doing what they do best, whether that be design, programming, sales, or whatever. Now these sites are by no means perfect, and they certainly are not capable of having a major effect on the economy at the moment, but I think they could be a starting point for something that may.
I can’t help but think of all the amazingly talented, smart, hard working people out there who are not working at the moment. To quote a friend that’s an “incredible waste of national resources.” People are not losing their jobs because there is no work to do, in fact there is more work to be done now, it’s just that no one has figured out how to tap those resources. Isn’t there an answer in the elances of the world? If we could figure out how to tap the incredible worldwide design talent by using a marketplace like elance, can’t we expand that to put some of these people to work? Doing something they are good at (and most likely enjoy)? Just a bit of rambling…