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(4) Self-employment and self-employment skills|
In our ancient history, there was no such term as unemployment. There was neither large scale of job creations, nor unemployment benefits. People relied on, mainly, themselves to survive. So according to the definition of modern economics, the majority of our ancestors were self-employed. The exceptions were bureaucrats which were selected thru long and tough exams, and soldiers. So self-employment is in fact an inherited skill we possess out of our instinct of surviving.
In the modern society, besides the operations run by government, almost every big business started from small business of self-employment. According to the statistics of US Small Business Administration, small businesses created over half of the new jobs in US and were accounted for nearly half of non-farm GDP. Moreover, based on the survey of Inc. magazine, a US magazine for the small business owners, the self-employed people have better job satisfactions, and have more opportunity to become wealthier millionaires.
With our inherited hard working and creative spirit, Chinese are natural business entrepreneurs. This shows in their success in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and many parts of South East Asia. The only exception was in China, during and shortly after 30 years of job guarantee under Mao’s era. Interestingly when Job is guaranteed, there were no longer incentives for risk taking, and the economy ran to a standstill. Now this sprit is again coming back!
There are many faces of self-employment. You could be a freelance writer or computer programmer, an artist, a medical doctor with own clinic, a consultant operated out of your own home, a contractor or a full scale of business operation with or without employees. And self-employment does not have to be for profit only. It could be for a good cause, a charity or a non-profit organization which you help to create. If you manage it well, you’d be able to take a salary. In North America, many jobs and volunteer opportunities are created thru those organizations.
With less job guarantee and job satisfaction, many of us will have no choice but face the self-employment. Then you can also be happily self-employed by your own choice. In our life time, we don’t necessary have to do everything others do. Just because everyone else graduated from universities / colleges are looking for jobs and go to job fair, it does not mean you have to do the same. If you’re reasonably intelligent, and full with creative and free spirit, it won’t do you any good to have you spent the rest of your life in a cubic. I know most of your parents won’t agree with what I said. As in their life time, they are so used to the government guaranteed payout. But under the market economy of today’s world (Sorry, I don’t like to use the word, “capitalism”.), the so-called job guarantee is more and more becoming a delusion.
Either self-employed by your own choice, or by unfortunate fate, you would have to go thru the journey of finding your own pay-check. Whether the experience is rewarding or miserable is very much depending on your own attitude. Some may find it a lot easier than looking for a job: send out resumes, wait for interviews, and then let others judge your worthiness (I always find it amazing that an interviewer can decide the worthiness of a job seeker in matter of hours). Some will find it hard especially for those who have lived a life of fixed pay checks.
Now what kind of skill sets is required for a self-employed person? This is really depending on what kind of self-employment you are getting into. Thru Google search, you’ll find all kinds of information on how to start your own business, and the description of essential skills for would-be entrepreneurs. However, from my own experience and observation, I’ll suggest two:
(1) Learn from school - Take courses at university /colleges on basic economics, basic finance and entrepreneurship if the courses are available. In my view, all students should take a basic economics course, this way they will have some understanding on how economy works, and not be frustrated by its crazy up and down cycle.
(2) Learn from real life – During school breaks, take part time jobs, any jobs, jobs in the small business, jobs related to your interest no matter how hard the work, and how low the pay is. That real life experience could be more valuable than what you have learned in schools. Li Ka-Shing of Hong Kong started work as a waiter in a tea house, and the founder of Wal-Mart started work as a clerk in a dry goods store.
And finally, aim high, believe nothing is impossible, but be down to earth, and be humble!
The next part - (5) socialist market economy in a harmonious society - to be posted later
[ Last edited by thetruthbut at 2007-3-27 01:13 PM ]