To prove the headline–and explain why everyone will have to become an entrepreneur–we need to talk about how the odds say the swirling global economy is going whisk you out of a job.
But since “nothing is constant but change” was probably already a cliché when the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said it 2700 years ago, we need to make the point another way.
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.
You say that’s hyperbolic? Our guess is that the people in the textile mills that made the clothes; those who made CDs and sold them; people who produce pay phones and manufactured maps never thought things would evolve as quickly as they did.
They were in denial. And most of us are too.
But the fact is the rate of change is only increasing. And the only thing you are able to count on when it comes to how you are going to make your living is you.
And that’s why you better be prepared to be an entrepreneur.
In the best of worlds (i.e. you get to keep doing the job you currently like) you will gain new skills and new ways of thinking that you will allow you do your existing job better. (We go into all this in our book Just Start.)
And if the worst happens—the winds of change sweep you out the door—you will have a head start on whatever it is you do next.
Either way you need to be prepared to be an entrepreneur.
Oh, by the way: I am trying to compile a list of industries have died recently, or soon will.
Here is what I have come up with: encyclopedias; formal wear; map makers; (brick and mortar) movie rentals stores (like Blockbuster); hotel telephone systems; pay phones; personal computers (have you look at the price of a simple desk top computer these days; fancy sneakers cost more); photo finishing (drop off any pictures to be developed recently?) the postal service; publishers (newspapers; magazines, books); record stores.