It's a rough economy out there, but even scarier than the persistent threats of recession, deflation, countries defaulting on their debt, governments' inability to balance the budget, and other boogey-people, is the pace of change itself.
By Cliff Ennico
Everything's changing so fast, and the world economy so volatile, that it seems impossible to prepare and plan for the future if you are a business owner looking to adapt to change, or if you are an unemployed corporate executive trying to figure out where tomorrow's job opportunities will be.
Having said that, though, there are some ongoing changes in our economy that most people agree will probably continue until well into the future. These changes, about which entire books have been written, can be easily summarized in twelve little words. Commit them to memory. Write them down on a Post-it Note®, put the note up on your computer, your refrigerator door, or somewhere else where they are readily visible, and read them at least once every day. Once you memorize them, recite them like a mantra, and plan your business or career future with them constantly in mind.
"The Future Is Digital." Make no mistake about it. "Brick and mortar" businesses in just about every industry are succumbing to the siren pull of the Internet. Business models that have been around for decades, even centuries, are slowly but surely disappearing into the "cloud", never to return to planet Earth. Most of the work you do for your clients will probably be done by software "bots" in 10 years' time - a lot faster, and (probably) a lot better.
Whatever it is you do, sooner or later there will be a virtual solution for it at extremely low cost, and you won't be able to compete.
- Check cashing stores? Not necessary in an era of digital payments and debit cards.
- Attorneys, accountants and financial advisors? Think advice and "prepared forms" websites you can access for free (or for pennies).
- Printed books and periodicals? Every time I board an airplane I see more and more Kindles and iPads and fewer and fewer "dead trees".
- Retail and distribution outlets? It's much quicker, and more convenient, to shop online than to navigate your local mall - and you can even get free shipping.
Look at your kids, or grandkids, at work and play. They grew up with the Web and video games. Everything they touch is digital. They are the future - pretty soon (if not already) they will form the core 18 to 35 year old demographic everyone will be pandering to. That pandering will take place in cyberspace.
"The Future Is Global." State and national boundaries are meaningless in an era where I can order something directly from an online merchant in Bangladesh who has no physical presence in North America, or outsource a key part of my business to a country where they don't even speak English. Two-thirds to three-fourths of the World's population are joining the world economy for the first time in human history. Sooner or later wealth will be more evenly distributed throughout the Globe, and few countries or continents will have a competitive advantage over any others. Except where access to local natural resources is critical, any business will be able to be conducted anywhere on Earth.
"The Future is Freelance." (Okay, maybe that's 13 words instead of 12). The concept of "employment" as we know it probably won't exist in coming decades, or if it will, it probably will be viewed as a temporary stepping stone to something else. The corporate career ladder will disappear. Instead, people with marketable knowledge and skills will bid to participate in specific projects hosted by companies - or teams -- that are more or less virtual. They will "float" from project to project (or work on several projects simultaneously), from company to company, as independent contractors, picking up experience and learning points that will enable them to bid competitively on progressively more advanced, and therefore more lucrative, projects. When they get tired of doing that, they will form virtual companies and begin soliciting virtual "teams" of their own.
"The future is digital; the future is global; the future is freelance" - twelve little words that can give you real insight into where future opportunities lie. So how do you take this and translate it into a real action plan? Simple - by recognizing that because you can't "beat" these trends, you had better "join" them. Now's a good time to sit down at your computer with a blank word processor page in front of you and a VSOP Brandy or single-malt Scotch by your side, and ask yourself the following questions:
How can I adjust what I do to fit a more digital, global, freelance world?
How can I help individuals and businesses adjust to this world?
I don't know the answers any better than you do (although I have some ideas). What I can tell you is that the answers, once you find them, are the business opportunities of the future. The people who will make money, survive, thrive and prosper in the coming century will be those who find the answers, and act upon them.
(firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist, author and former host of the PBS television series "Money Hunt
." This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2019 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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