Not So Hard Times

Over the last few months, I’ve been writing about (and publishing others’ articles about) small business a lot more than about career development, management or personal growth. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I see more opportunity for individuals in the small business sector than in traditional employment in large organizations. Not only do I see more opportunity, I see more people taking up the opportunities than ever before, because the Internet has given us more opportunities than we’ve ever had before to market our goods and services. That includes the many ways it also helps us with our “brick-and-mortar” businesses.

Let me tell you a story:

When I was a young teen, we were living in times that were considered relatively economically stable. Unemployment was low and national economic growth steady. The middle-class was also growing. And, despite the “Cold War” hanging over our heads, we actually felt fairly safe within the borders of our own country, and even while traveling abroad.

Sounds like good times, no?

From the point of view of today’s technologies and opportunities, we were living in a straitjacket.

My story is fairly typical. My stepdad had been ill (major back surgery) and was unable to work. My mom, who was a secretary, was working full time at her main job and part time at two other jobs. Since she had five children, a good part of her salary went to pay the woman who came in five days a week to watch the smaller children and do light housekeeping.

This all happened around the same time that my grandfather–my mother’s father–had a massive stroke, and lay comatose in the hospital. So, while working three jobs, Mom also visited him in the hospital every day. That part of the hardship lasted for about six months before my grandfather passed.

Did I mention that we had no car and mom had to do all her commuting to all three jobs and the hospital on public transportation?

So, you can see that it may have been reasonably good economic times for the country, but no matter the state of the over-all economy, individuals can have a far different experience.

You may already be seeing the possible differences between today’s opportunities and the opportunities that my family had at that time. But just let me spell out a couple of examples of what I see.

Just take a look at what would have been different for my stepdad. Even though physically confined to home and sometimes even to bed, day he could, through a computer, smart phones and other technologies, virtually go anywhere. He was an extraordinary salesman. He could have been an extraordinary Internet marketer. And if he had been the same age today as he was then, he certainly would have had computer skills.

As for my mother, the skills she had then, combined with today’s computer skills, she would have likely been an executive assistant and made far more money. And even if she had not made enough pay, she could have started her own virtual assistant business.

Those are only two possible differences today’s technologies and knowledge could have made for my family.

We may consider these times to be tough economically for the nation. For individuals, though, maybe not so not much.

What opportunities can you seize to make your economic times the good times? What can you learn? What kind of training can you get? What can you do with what you already have that today’s technologies can support and further?