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Is the End of Jobs Coming? Employees Beware

Entrepreneurship is a path that more workers could find themselves on soon, like it or not. Survival strategies are required for self-starters, and those who’d rather keep their jobs.

Let’s be honest. One of your primary goals is to build long-term wealth, right?

Wealth building is based on two factors: earnings and expenses. When you are satisfied with your career, you have a higher likelihood of earning more money. If dissatisfied, it is that much more difficult to increase your earnings.

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Taylor Pearson contends in his book, The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom without the 9-5, that entrepreneurship is one way to increase earnings. Many entrepreneurs start businesses to solve a problem or fill a need in the marketplace. Or, like Steve Jobs, they create demand for something new, like smartphones and tablets. Regardless, the work they do matters.

Pearson defines entrepreneurship as “connecting, creating, and inventing systems — be they businesses, people, ideas, or processes.” A job, however, is “the act of following the operating system someone else created.”

From the beginning, Pearson touches on some important points.

1. We could very well be at the “end of jobs.”

Pearson argues that “largely abundant, high-paying jobs that characterized the second half of the twentieth century” are gone. In fact, non-routine cognitive positions are the only growing job segment. Traditional university degrees from the bachelor to Ph.D. level are plentiful, thereby decreasing their value.

2. Globalization is both a curse and a blessing.

Pearson describes the rise of micro-multinational companies: small entrepreneurial endeavors that can source talent globally for a fraction of the price they’d find in the U.S. For U.S.-based workers in traditional jobs, this is scary. Yet this is the world in which we live; entrepreneurs who are willing to embrace this opportunity could experience tremendous growth.

3. Entrepreneurs operate in a different domain than traditional employees.

Pearson refers to Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework, separating work into distinct domains: simple, complicated, complex and chaotic. He contends that many traditional workers live in the complicated domain. This is where the “relationship between cause and effect requires analysis and investigation” but can be solved through existing measures.

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By contrast, the complex domain is emergent, where many entrepreneurs find themselves. Here, the relationship between cause and effect is only clear in retrospect. The demand for people operating in the complex and chaotic systems (aka entrepreneurs) is higher than ever before.

The powerlessness of being an employee

As an employee, you are essentially giving an employer complete control over 100% of your earnings. Your boss could end your employment in a moment’s notice. Entrepreneurship is a different beast altogether. In a product-based business, one customer will not dictate whether your business stays open or permanently closes. However, the struggle is real for service-based businesses with a single client comprising 50% or more of revenue. In these cases, enormous effort should be exerted to diversify the client base.

While I agree with many of Pearson’s arguments philosophically, I’m not sold. He paints a bleak picture for traditional employees.

Strategies for those who don’t want to be entrepreneurs

In my opinion, not everyone is destined to become an entrepreneur. Take my husband, Bryan, for example. He is hard-working and committed to grow professionally and personally. However, he doesn’t yearn for the entrepreneurial lifestyle. He enjoys making a valuable contribution to a larger organization. He finds meaning in the 9-to-5 and works for a company that is growing. The lack of freedom does not bother him as much.

Are you similar to Bryan? Maybe you can create an “intrapreneurship” model within an established company that promotes risk-taking and fresh approaches. Or you could serve an important role in a new, fast-growing small business.

What we all can do to maximize success

Whether you follow the path to entrepreneurship or stay in a more traditional position, focus on items within your control. Amplify your strengths and live out passions through work. Find a role that aligns with your values and unique gifts.

Not there yet? Consider the financial planning process. Define goals and carve a new professional path. If you’re an employee who dreams of entrepreneurship, create a financial plan that will make your dream a reality. The same rationale applies to anyone in a job transition. Map out concrete steps to change roles (i.e., save $4,000 by Aug. 30). Reframe your “emergency fund” as an “opportunity fund” to embark on a new adventure.

About the Author

Deborah L. Meyer, CPA/PFS, CFP®

CEO, WorthyNest LLC

Deborah L. Meyer, CPA/PFS, CFP®, is a fee-only financial planner and investment adviser based in greater Saint Louis. As the owner of WorthyNest, Deb helps conscientious parents build wealth. She is a proud member of NAPFA, Fee-Only Network, XY Planning Network, and the AICPA. Deb is passionate about family, faith, finance and travel. In fact, she is blogging about her family's recent three-month adventure in Spain.

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