Is Robert Reich Talking About Us?

In today’s New York Times op ed section, Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, entitled Entrepreneur or Unemployed?, considers the uptick in entrepreneurial start ups by 30-40 somethings, closely followed by 50-60 somethings and the longterm viability of those start ups.  He has concerns that many of these start ups, i.e. the businesses many of us have started, are acts of desperation as the job market remains flat for many of our friends and family.

He fairly identifies the phenomena and what caused it, but is seems overly pessimistic about our potential for success.   Many of us have achieved glowing levels of success starting the exact type of businesses he seems to be concerned about. Even more of us have started businesses that nicely augment our income from our day jobs.  Yes, ideally we create and build businesses in ways that nicely segue between leaving your day job and moving full time into your own business, as per your well considered business and transition plan.  In situations where the transition is less than voluntary, that still means that you took a risk, learned new skills, created something that didn’t exist before and succeeded to whatever degree you do succeed.  While I appreciate his concern, if you have a successful business, does it really matter under what circumstances you created it.  Even if you didn’t succeed, there are lessons to be learned there.

While perhaps not his his point, he missed the opportunity to encourage us to consider the value of multiple streams of income.  There are many of us who work in jobs we love, or at the very least find interesting, but with the power of the internet, we create businesses or pursue ideas that we can’t develop in our jobs.  Assuming there are no competitive conflicts, there should be no problem, thus value is created for you, your clients and the larger economy.  As the job market tends to be cyclical, each of us will be out of work at various points in our career for reasons completely beyond our control.  In light of that, it is completely rational for us to create other means of supporting ourselves to tide us over the gaps in employment.   If the result is a little income to tide us over, or add to our savings, or grow to be a fabulous success (thus making the unloved day job unnecessary), those of us who have started businesses using the power of the internet should take confidence in our decision to take the leap and create a business for yourself that didn’t exist before.

While Reich does have some interesting ideas about how we entrepreneurial types can be assisted in the early start up phases if need be, that is a whole other conversation.    In a sense, in a quasi back-handed way, Reich’s comments allow me to bring together my passions for creativity and multiple streams of income.  So please, my fellow entrepreneurial types, it doesn’t matter how you get on the path to creating your own businesses, continue to be open to new skills, possibilities, and adventures to keep working your businesses.  If they grow slowly or quickly, take heart that you are doing exactly what you need to be doing.

So, what do you think?  I’m dying to hear!

Integrated Life Success


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