Over at Forbes.com, Paul B. Brown explains “Why Everyone Will Have To Become An Entrepreneur”:
Think back 20 years. On a random Saturday morning, you slip on your American made polo shirt, and made in the U.S.A. blue jeans, and while walking downtown you wonder if that new hot CD you want—the one that has been sold out forever—is finally available. Spotting a pay phone, you get the number for a record store you know is near by. Yes, they have a copy they will put aside for you, if you can get there within the hour. Not quite certain where the store is, you pull out a map and double check.
As you think about this scenario, and countless others you could imagine, you realize that it’s easier to list the tiny handful of professions and industries that will remain unchanged in the next 20 years than it is to write down the ones that will be altered—radically. And all that upheaval is likely to throw you—and anyone else who is not prepared—out of a job.
I’m old enough for Brown’s time-machine scenario to ring all kinds of (rotary dial) bells.
(I’d add that, because it’s Saturday morning, the banks aren’t open, and ATMs don’t exist, so the money in your wallet is what you’re stuck with until 10 a.m. Monday.)
(On the plus side, you can still smoke in your neighborhood bar…)
To Brown’s larger point — about all encompassing obsolescence — I was just chatting to a professional journalist who remarked, matter of factly, that newspapers will cease to exist in ten years, tops. (Lucky for him, he’s in broadcasting.)
I feel the same way about the postal service.
Then again, I grew up in a steel town, and heard all my life that the factories would be closing down any year now.
Or taken over by the Japanese.
That was almost fifty years ago. Those factories are still smoking, and Canadian owned.
Those trendy Japanese manufacturing and managerial tricks they tried out in the 1970s are long forgotten.
Sure, I’m already an entrepreneur, and know all the beautifully patina-ed koans: “Nobody ever got rich working for somebody else” and so forth.
But I’m a contrarian, too. In this glorious sole-proprietorship future, won’t somebody still have to wear the name tags?
Are we planning for an era that — just like 99% of those “flying car” “futures” of the past — won’t ever materialize?