As I watched the Nobel prize winning economist drone on with his advice for college grads who cannot find work, I thought I would add some important things that were missing. I know I am merely a Paycheck winning economist, but I have been for the past 32 years. A track record should count for something.
First, I would tell you to take inventory of what actual marketable skills you obtained from your higher education. Now, who uses those services? I mean, if you got a job with some big company, who are the customers that they would be serving with your skills? Next, go straight to those people yourself.
I firmly believe there are customers for what you have to offer. The thing that is standing in the way is the big-company-middleman who would have to absorb the cost of hiring you before they can show a profit. And there are costs. It’s the reason why I have never had employees for very long. It’s a lot of extra work, and I am generally better off without them. Take into account that the bigger an employer you are, the more government regulations and oversight you must contend with, and it’s easier to see that there is a lot of friction between you and the money you want to make. To reduce that friction, accept the fact that you should go into business for yourself with only yourself as an employee. Yes, even that is a pain, but it’s a lot less of a pain than being unemployed and hopeless.
Go to the library and check out all the Zig Ziglar books you can find, and start training yourself to look for opportunities to serve others. See yourself as someone who can add value to the lives of others. Put a price on it and offer to those who need it. As Zig used to say, “Help enough people get what they want, and you will get what you want.”
Are you a graphic designer? Visit the lousy websites of local businesses. Then go see them and offer them a makeover. Are you a marketing major? Help local small businesses capture local dollars before they leave the area. You get the idea. I’m just a window cleaner, but I made my bones in this business by looking for dirt and offering to get rid of it. And best of all, dirt keeps coming back!
Being self-employed is part business ownership, part overtime job. What I mean by that is that I own it, but it also owns me. When I stop working, I stop making money. To move to more of an ownership role, I will be hiring people and getting out of the actual job of window cleaning. Why? Because I am getting a new job! My wife, Cindi, and I are going to be full time staff with Child Evangelism of North Central Florida this coming year, and I will not have time to do windows. But I DO own this enterprise, so I will continue to try and extract an income from it.
To see what new and exciting things we will be doing, check out our new web site at DonandCindi.com!
The last post here was before my wife and I went on vacation. Well, maybe it was only partially a vacation. Most of it was taken up with the national convention for Child Evangelism Fellowship. You see, Cindi and I have been involved in children’s ministry over the years and we wanted to get back in since our own kids are gone now. We had already sold our house and most of our possessions. We now have a smaller standard of living, but we have more life to live! And we’d like it to count for something. Let me explain.
We have been Christians since 1981, when we suddenly realized that we had no reason to be excited about our eternal destiny after we die. Since that time, we have been a part of several areas of ministry which have allowed us to reach people in crisis with the Gospel. We have taught the Bible to prison inmates, opened our home to the homeless, and taught children what it means to be a Christian. Our own children have grown up in the faith, and both are now part of their respective church’s worship teams as musicians.
Now, we just made this decision to get involved with CEF just this past fall. We headed up a fund raiser and got elected to the local CEF committee this spring, and in the middle of May went to the convention. While we were there, we decided to seek full time positions with CEF. That means I am looking for an exit strategy for my business. I cannot do the ministry justice and be working my business full time.
My options seem to be the following: 1) work less and less as we raise our support from donors, finally just quitting the business; 2) try to sell the business as is. Since my business is almost all residential, most of the existing customer base will seek a window cleaner on the open market rather than just be “owned” by the person who buys my business; 3) hire part timers and grow the business with the extra man hours with the aim of promoting one of the part timers to full time as the customers get used to them. This could take awhile.
I like the third option best because it allows me to capture the equity in my business that I have built up over the years. I may have to keep a hand on the tiller for a long time, but I will not have to sacrifice the future of the ministry for it. As it is now, I am only working 4 days a week so I can give the ministry some time now. I am exhausted on window cleaning days, and I look forward to being able to cut down to three, then two, then one, and then done. But I’d still like to own it. After all, it’s all the retirement I really have that is worth anything. And until I can no longer work at all, it can help support the ministry.
But, most important, I can spend the balance of my life working with my wife in a field that we both believe in that will change the lives of children for the rest of their lives, and even for eternity.
If you are making money in your business, and you are accumulating a lot of stuff, you might want to rethink that. The stuff just takes up your time. And in the final analysis, it has no real meaning. Right now, I am enjoying the luxury of working only 4 days each week, and it is a luxury! And it’s only possible because I have smaller expenses and I am pouring less time into keeping property up. I will never mow grass again. I swim in a pool that I never clean. And I am able to give to people and causes I believe in. I lived a long time not being able to do that, and now that is the greatest luxury of all. I can’t wait til I can add to that, “working full time to expand the Kingdom of God.”
When you can make something from nothing, or almost nothing, making a profit is much easier. But when you need large investments to have the best of everything, just getting that investment back can be difficult.
Sure, I can understand the old saying that it takes money to make money, but I am wary of using it to go on a shopping spree as part of a small business startup. It can establish a dangerous precedent of throwing money at problems instead of thinking them through and solving them.
I’ve spent a bit of money on advertising over the years, but it has done me very little good. There is no replacing the humble business card combined with your willingness to meet people and hand them out. You can spend a lot of money on direct mail to get your name inside that gated community, or you can spend some quality time with other services that already work there and give your cards to them. I say quality time, which means enough for them to get to know you so they can give your name with confidence.
5 comments - What do you think? Posted by
Don Marsh -
December 26, 2012 at 4:17 am
Once in a while I hear about some new technology that is supposed to put me out of business. I always check it out, but it is usually what I think it is: too specialized and expensive or inconvenient to use. So, I bit on this product and thought I’d explain why I took the Mayan Apocalypse more seriously.
It really does only one thing. It does not remove screens, wipe out tracks, scrape paint or frog stickum or bird poop, apply hard water stain remover, or periodically call and remind you to get your windows cleaned.
It has to be maintained. There are pads to clean and some sort of cleaning fluid reservoir to refill. I see window cleaning tools in my customers’ garages all the time. This will be found by archeologists in an junk drawer in 2513.
It’s probably going to be expensive. There is no price given at this time, but I can remember buying tools that require specialized parts and refills that were hard to get and/or costly. It really put me off buying things like that.
So there you have it. This will one day go the way of the Chia Pet, and clean about as many windows.
1 comment - What do you think? Posted by
Don Marsh -
December 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm
Yes, I was bummed out after this election, but I quickly got over it because I was too busy to wallow in despair. These things have never had much of an effect on me personally because I am willing to do anything to stay in business. I am not waiting for things to get better. I am not waiting for favorable circumstances. I am not waiting for better opportunities. I want to work, and I never fail to find it.
I have never received unemployment benefits. I have never even filed for them. Thought about it once, but it was going to take a few weeks for them to kick in, so I thought I might as well double down on trying to find a job. And I did find a job, one after another after another.
My persistence and lack of fear of doing hard work may come from the experience of my first job. During the summer of 1973 I worked with a pickaxe, busting sod, in clay soil, for $1.50 per hour. I mention the clay because busting sod on this sand bar called Florida is pansy work by comparison. I went home at the end of the day exhausted and severely dehydrated and in a great deal of pain. Every job after that one was a piece of cake.
Today I heard a news story about the horror of extended unemployment benefits running out after Christmas. According to this article, some of these people will have been on unemployment for 54 weeks, or just over a year. How is this possible? Have these people really been filing applications and waiting by the phone for almost a year? Seriously? Or did some of them receive benefits while working at something that paid under the table? How badly do these people want to work? Is there work that is just beneath them, that they will not do?
I’m sure I’m making some people mad right now, but I have met many people over the years who cringe at every obstacle. Unless some big company, big agency, or other big boss is there to tell them what to do, and insure their comfort while they do it, they really cannot function. So when the big boss fails, or decides to wait for better tax circumstances, he sets everyone free to be their own boss. But they don’t know how to do that. They can only vote for the big boss they think will take care of them.
The big boss has to find million dollar contracts to hire the little people. Or he at least needs a stream of hundreds of thousands coming in regularly, or it is not worth his while to set the big machine in motion. But the little boss, the self-employed person, who really wants to work, can always find his hundreds and even his thousands lying around. Even when he has to make them ten or twenty dollars at a time, he or she can find them. But you have to really want to work. You cannot fear the discomfort and inconvenience and the pressure that comes with an empty calendar every day. You have to show up, and you have to be willing to do anything to find that job.
In a world where there are more helpless, lazy, timid, and clueless people than I can ever remember, I have no competition. In fact, I am overwhelmed by demand. There is work. There always will be, and I am not too big to do it.
3 comments - What do you think? Posted by
Don Marsh -
December 11, 2012 at 4:32 am