It was 16 years ago that I saw the hand writing on the wall. As a non-family member working in a family-owned company it was apparent that the long term career there was out of reach. This realization plus a nagging idea for a business venture changed my course for the better. The obvious alternative of spending the senior years going from job to job and unemployment redundancy was not the least bit appealing. I praise God that I was able to see it then.

Now we are in the thick of it. The Enquirer is running a series on the aging unemployed. Baby Boomers are losing hope with increasing discouragement. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, we were supposed to retire, enjoy our grandchildren, annoy our children and perhaps move to a warm climate with occasional travel.

Why is it happening?
The answer lies not with an economic letdown but rather to a shift in the business environment. We are in a transition that has many more years ahead before it settles some. Information Technology, outsourcing and offshoring plays a big part in this and is not going away. The jobs we used to do as upper and middle managers are gone. The job I had during my career years with Marriott is unlikely to exist today and if it does, it probably pays 30% to 60% less than what I was paid. Regardless of how good any of us were at our former jobs, it doesn’t matter. Those jobs are gone and never coming back! Let’s get over it.

What is the solution?
A recent trip to New Orleans for an Inc. Magazine GROWCO conference was an eye-opener for me. Here is a city that was on the brink before the levies broke. When the levies gave way the flood took away lives and the entire infrastructure. Many people left the city never to return. Yet the city is clawing its way back and showing signs of real recovery in the face of naysayers who said it could not be done. It wasn’t the government who brought it back. It was not the charitable groups (although the outpouring of help after the crisis did help rebuild and lift the spirits of those remaining). It was not the local Chamber of Commerce. It was the individual entrepreneurs!

The solution to our plight is entrepreneurial thinking. It is a mind shift. Forget finding a JOB. Create one! As success builds with each new day of this career choice, you are opening opportunities for others being employed by you. You will be creating a legacy for your family and perhaps even for the entire world! I believe everyone has an idea and a passion to get out of the jobless bucket. There is lots of help out there for success. That is what we business owners do; help other business owners succeed.

To the younger set, start preparing now. Begin thinking and dreaming like an entrepreneur. Study business ownership books and read success stories. Be ready, your day will come.

Unemployment and Social Security?
I’d rather stick a needle in my eye!

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