Friday, July 03, 2009

Lost Your Job -- Look At It As An Opportunity by Walt Barrett

If you are one of the millions of people who have lost their job in our most recent financial debacle, I would like to offer you my take on jobs, and working for others. I started working in factories in 1947 as a mill rat, as they used to call us. I was fourteen years old. It actually turned out to be a great lesson for me because I learned early on that there wasn't much of a future working in the old time mills. It was a dead end job. Anyway, as I worked my way up through the ranks over the years and eventually moved up to top management positions etc, I learned that in the eyes of most companies that their employees are just numbers on a balance sheet, and the only real security is in being your own boss. So this is what I think.

Even if you start off making less money, and with less benefits, you are really more secure owning your own business in the long run. Accountants only see the bottom line in big business, and their attitudes in the quest for glory, and more and more profits they have seriously dehumanized the relationship between the employees and their employers. These days, an employee is just a number on a balance sheet for many companies. No one cares what happens to you these days. You are on your own so you had better make the best of it! If you have recently lost your job, you have just been handed a great opportunity Because with the Internet it is totally possible to start a business with virtually no money. You can take a chance that you might never have taken otherwise. I am not referring to all of the "get rich quick" schemes. I am referring to starting off with a nationally known sales vehicle like eBay, Craig's List, or You Tube. Find a product, or products and just start selling them. Do not spend a ton of money on a web site. Use a HTML editor and build your own web pages as you need them. That's what I did in 1996 and I have never looked back.

At age sixty-two in 1995, no one wanted to hire me any more. It is a real trip to sit across from a 28 year old "Human Resources" manager, and have that person tell you that you are "over qualified".
That is code for "you are too old", but they can't say that! I have already had the great satisfaction of watching several companies in my area actually fold because of their short sited policy of dumping older employees, and also employees without degrees. It's very short sighted, and is also academic snobbery. I recently watched a take over in our area where the new management dumped at least fifty key people for the above reasons and replaced them with young recent college graduate friends etc, and in less than two years they have destroyed the company. They had destroyed their whole knowledge base. And to add to the irony of the situation, the competition has snapped up all of people that were laid off including the sales force which has easily grabbed up a huge number of their customers. Can you say stupid! You know, there is an old saying that "When an old person dies, a library dies with them." Many companies have just never learned that and they have paid the price. So, my point again, is that you have absolutely no security whatsoever when you work for someone else.

Think up your own business idea. Do not invest a lot of money. Find a company that will sell you a decent product at a fair price. Maybe they will even drop ship for you. Sell stuff on eBay. Buy interesting things at yard sales, or even pick it up off the curb on trash day. I'm not above it myself. Even if you only make 10% to 20% clear profit, it's better than the bank and safer than the stock market. I never trusted the market so I never lost a dime. I invest my money by purchasing more inventory. I never ask for credit and I never give credit. My philosophy is that "if they can't pay me now, they can't pay me later." Don't buy anything if you can rent it, especially space. Many startups waste their money on unnecessary purchases. That is why there are so many startup failures. You have to be very careful about money. If you are going to bootstrap a business you have to do most of the work yourself, so keep it simple, and also keep books – for sure! We use Quick Books and a CPA.
We avoid problems that way ands we always know the status of our business. Our check book is tied into quick books. It works for us. Also, keep control of all your money and inventory. Unfortunately, employee theft and embezzlement is running rampant these days.

One last thing I want to comment on the “Fear of Failure”. I have seen many a genius idea go down the drain because the people involved were afraid of failure. If you do your homework you should know if your idea is a good one or not. If you do have a job, start off small and grow. ebay is a wonderful test market. Put your product out there and give it a fair shot. It's a great way to determine a price point. Don't be afraid to experiment. If you venture nothing, you gain nothing, and you spend the rest of your life going from job to job and working for the man.
Walt Barrett

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