Wednesday, May 16, 2018 / Brisbane Australia / By Niekie Jooste
In this edition of "The WelderDestiny Compass":
Most of us have grown up in a world where having a fixed job is considered "normal". This state of affairs is however not that common if we consider longer time frames.
In the agrarian age, most people participated in a largely subsistence existence, with a relatively small portion of their produce being traded, to get hold of the goods or services that they were unable to provide for themselves.
In that kind of economy, the people with the best entrepreneurial skills ended up more comfortable than their neighbors. It was important to learn the skills associated with trading and bartering. People were largely "micro entrepreneurs".
As the industrial revolution gained momentum, more and more people headed to the towns and cities to find a "job". Having a job that paid a relatively predictable income slowly became the norm as the industrial age took full flight. Entrepreneurial skills became less relevant. What became important was to have skills that an employer would be willing to pay for.
We can see that this trend is now reversing. More and more people are working on a contract or part time basis as much of the industrial factory jobs are being automated. People feel cheated that their jobs are being taken by machines. The blame for this loss of jobs is laid at the door of automation, globalization or even capitalism.
Is it possible that the "fixed jobs" paradigm associated with the industrial age was an aberration? Is it possible that the real free market work paradigm is one of "micro entrepreneurship"? A work paradigm that the new machine age is moving back into?
Today we start to look at this idea of the return of micro entrepreneurship. In coming weeks we will then try to understand what skills will be important to the machine age micro entrepreneur.
If you would like to add your ideas to this week’s discussion, then please send me an e-mail with your ideas, (Send your e-mails to: email@example.com) or complete the comment form on the page below.
Now let's get stuck into this week’s topics...
To this day, in under developed nations, between 60 to 90% of the population is still directly involved in the agricultural sector. Industrialization makes agriculture much more productive. In most industrialized nations, less than 5% of the population work in the agricultural sector. In a country such as the USA, this number is around 2% of the population.
Given that the USA is largely self-sufficient regarding food production, the effect of industrialization on productivity can be clearly seen. It has improved productivity by a factor of around 40. That is a 4000% increase in productivity.
Obviously the machines that made this huge gain in productivity possible needed to be built by people, so the "unnecessary" farmers moved to the cities and started working in the mines and factories. Most of them went to the city and "got a job". Mostly they did not themselves start up the companies that made the machines, but got a job at a factory or mine.
The idea was born that some other organisation was responsible for "giving you a job". The paradigm was born that you no longer owned your own micro-business. Rather, you were now a cog in a bigger machine.
This was largely due to the fact that the new manufacturing businesses were rather capital intensive. Just having some skills was not enough to start a tractor or steam engine factory. You also needed a lot of capital resources just to get it off the ground. Those without the capital, financial skills and "connections" were largely trapped in a "job market" rather than having the freedom to join in the economy as an entrepreneur.
We have become comfortable in the "job market" paradigm. In fact, as we see our jobs being automated, we feel that something unfair is happening in the world. A socialistic instinct has been developed over that last 350 years of the industrial age. A socialistic instinct that tells us that "the economy" owes us a job.
Automation is now synonymous with lost jobs, but something else is happening at the same time. Automation has given us a platform where the capital requirement to start up a business has been radically reduced. Suddenly anybody can potentially start up an international business for a very small capital outlay. Some of the biggest businesses in the world were started off in a garage or dorm room with hardly any capital. Think of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook.
It is obvious that not everyone can start up and run a multi billion dollar business. The economic fundamentals requires there to be a pyramid structure in the economy, where most businesses are small and only a low percentage of those become the big behemoths like Microsoft and Apple.
We are concerned with what it looks like to be one of those successful micro businesses. The one man shows that can sell some product or service into the bigger market. We are concerned with the skills required for successful micro entrepreneurship.
I believe that the biggest enabler for the new micro entrepreneur economy is the decentralized autonomous organization. (DAO) We have looked at the concept a number of times before in The WelderDestiny Compass, so if you are uncertain about what we are talking about, you can read more here...
It looks to me like we are returning to the days when our micro entrepreneurial abilities will determine how comfortably we will live. Automation will steadily erode much of the typical manufacturing and services work. The new economy will be a marketplace where micro-entrepreneurs supply most of the specialist services. These will include anything from computer programming and social marketing to site based maintenance activities such as welding.
In this economy, the skills to be successful will be a lot different to the skills needed to be a good employee. The skills and knowledge will need to include a lot of technical and social marketing skills.
In the coming weeks we will try to identify some of the skills that would probably be valuable in the micro entrepreneurial economy. We readily admit that we could easily be wrong in our assessments, but if we are, it should become obvious as events unfold. What we do not want is to be taken by surprise and find ourselves behind the curve. In this light, making predictions and being wrong about some of them is a whole lot better than moving forward in ignorance.
Yours in welding
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