As unemployment hits a quarter-century high, many Americans - especially those of us just out of college or graduate school - are looking for a secure and prosperous career path. At the same time, we're not finding very much.
This article is dedicated to helping you find your financial and personal freedom by becoming an entrepreneur, and offering your unique talents in the open marketplace.
1) Entrepreneurs create jobs better than anyone else
Despite the claims of many politicians in Washington, the best jobs are not created by stimulus spending, "shovel-ready" public works projects, or investment in politically popular technologies.
Rather, they are created by innovative and avant-garde entrepreneurs who break new ground in new industries.Statistics show that the net growth in jobs over the past two decades has been almost entirely due to small business growth, but the proof also abounds in our daily lives. Take, for instance, Google. Google, the filthy-rich brainchild of Stanford graduate students, was neither funded by government nor the product of any public policy. In fact, Stanford University declined to invest in the budding technology when it was introduced. After all, we already had Yahoo, AOL, and AltaVista. Why would we need another search engine?
As it turns out, however, we did need Google, and now the billion-dollar company not only offers jobs to die for, but has also spawned the $4 billion "search engine optimization" market, where firms compete to help you get your listings as high in Google as possible.
The stories abound. The bottom-up spontaneous creativity of entrepreneurs, not top-down programs, creates jobs. So if you want to become your own stimulus, and help lead the country out of recession, it's time to start your own business.
2) The big corporation is on the way out
Back in the day, getting a job at a Big Corporation was the ticket to success and the American Dream. Employment was expected to be for life, and with a modicum of opportunity for upward advancement, working for the Man in a white collar position was the way to ensure your prosperity.
Those days, it's a whole different world. Big Corporations are under constant competitive threat from new entrepreneurial entrants (see above) as well as foreign competition. Every day it seems a new corporate behemoth is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
All of the major trends of the 21st century bode poorly for the future of the Big Corporation. First, decentralized "crowd-sourced" upstart companies are the fastest growing new business model; the bureaucratic hierarchy of the Big Corporation is unable to compete with such a dynamic model. Second, foreign competition makes American corporations less cost-effective than they used to be. Third, technological change generally makes the competitive landscape more dynamic and uncertain, thus reducing the stability advantages that corporations once offered.
3) Being your own boss is fun
As any entrepreneur can tell you, entrepreneurship is an immensely rewarding and enjoyable experience. Even through difficult times, as long as you are pursuing an area that stirs your passions, you will find yourself happier and healthier than you will working for someone else.
As the successful music producer and marketing consultant, DJ Skee, told us in his People for the American Dream interview, he feels like he hasn't worked a day in his life. Despite going through ups, downs, and myriad challenges in his young career, pursuing his passion has allowed him to truck through the most difficult times.
In these trying economic times, the best thing you can do for yourself is improve your physical and psychological health. The best way to do that is to do something you love. The best way to do something you love is to gather up the courage to follow your dreams and become an entrepreneur.
4) Entrepreneurship is the best learning experience
If you're looking to build up your resume for future success, you'll quickly realize that lots of experience is the key to getting in the door. This can be frustrating for many, especially those of us younger Americans who lack the years under our belts.
But the good news is entrepreneurship provides the greatest opportunity to learn numerous skills and gain valuable experience in a short period of time. As Pandora Internet Radio founder Tim Westergren related in his People for the American Dream interview, entrepreneurship offers a "tremendous amount of variety." Tim adds, "One minute you could be researching an industry, the next you'll be developing a business plan. Just surround yourself with smart people and listen to what they have to say."
As an entrepreneur, you'll be forced to develop skill sets you never knew you had. But the good news is even if you don't make it in your first attempt, you'll have developed the talents and abilities that will lead you to success in the future. This will benefit you in your next business or your next job - wherever your path to freedom takes you.
5) Entrepreneurship is all about freedom
Freedom is defined as "the ability to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint." Entrepreneurship is the ultimate form of freedom because everything comes down to you. You make the ultimate decisions regarding the future of your business, and you must live with them.
As an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. There are no higher ups to blame for failure, and there are no bosses to take credit for your success. You are responsible for your own freedom - and that's a beautiful thing.
Rakaa Iriscience, the talented founding member of the rap group Dilated Peoples, told us in his People for the American Dream interview that the best thing about his career is the freedom. He added, "It's all about me. If I perform, I eat; and if I don't, I don't. I just have to go out there and make it happen."
It's all up to you. Your life, your career, and your future, all depend on what you do with the freedom you are given.
Today is the day.