I am sure you are aware of the global economic crisis that has been happening over the last few years. We have heard of the horror stories where the economic and social foundations of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus have nearly collapsed. These have all added fuel to the fire which resulted in the British public leaving the European Union in last week’s referendum.
Unemployment is high in these countries now. As I write this Spain is having a second general election because the last one in December did not result in a decisive outcome and so Spain has been run by a caretaker Government. It is said that unemployment is at a staggering 50% with more and more people in Spain forced to get food from food banks because they cannot afford a full weekly shop.
Greece is slowly recovering after seeing regular street protests and rioting resulting in shops and businesses being attacked. Times have been so desperate lately that people are turning on themselves.
Many of the issues in places like Spain and Cyprus were made worse by people in places like the UK not being able to afford overseas holidays so they chose to stay in their own countries which meant a lot of tourist places that relied heavily on income from tourism and tourist based work were seriously affected.
Many people believe that the bankers with greedy intentions and dodgy dealings have caused many of the issues, and they might be right. Governments bailing out banks have had to force cuts within the public sector which simply amplifies the misery that people are living with. But bankers and capitalism isn’t the cause of all of the issues that protesters will have you believe.
We are living in a different world these days and what worked 10 – 20 years ago is slowly changing.
Do you remember Woolworths, Blockbuster video and HMV? Over the last few years they have been in the headlines because they were forced to close making a lot of people unemployed. And of course the BHS collapse has been in the news recently. But when we look closely at these stores what do we see? We see companies that have been around for years offering the public products that were once expensive to buy, expensive to manufacture and that you could only get from the big stores that could afford to stock them.
Products like video and DVD’s, music CDs, books, stationery and even household goods. What is the first thing most people think when they look at those items?
‘Videos? DVD’s? They are so last decade!’
Many of today’s big stores are not suffering because of the economic crisis that has been caused by the bankers, many jobs are not being lost because of the banking system, they are being lost because the way our society is changing, they are being lost down to the advancement and development in modern technology and working systems.
We are at a similar stage to the industrial revolution of the early 19th century. Advancements in technology is making life easier and better for all, unfortunately with those changes some things and some people may suffer.
We are now living in the digital age; music is now in MP3 format and can be downloaded to mobile phones, MP3 players, computers, tablets and even eBook readers like the Kindle. Books are in PDF or Kindle form and can also be downloaded directly from the online store to Kindles, mobile phones, computers and tablets.
Movies and TV shows are the same; they come in digital format that can be downloaded and streamed live via your computer and mobile phone. I mean think about it, mobile phone? We can sit and watch TV on a phone while travelling on a bus or train!
Tesco now have their own Film and TV streaming service called BlinkBox to rival Netflix and Amazon. All are growing and changing the way we receive our entertainment. What was just an online thing routed to a TV by HDMI leads from a laptop is now becoming a defunct technology with modern TVs now coming connected to the internet via wifi or with USB sticks like Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire. Internet TV is now being watched on large TVs!
Imagine trying to tell someone one back in 1988 who owned one of those huge car phones that within 20 years we would be watching TV or listening to radio broadcast live from the other side of the world on hand held mobile phones! Then tell them that these phones are capable of storing more books and music albums than what most people have on their shelves.
We live in a new age, we cannot overlook that, Woolworths might have closed down their stores but their online business was thriving until they recently joined the huge online store Very.co.uk. An online store has far less overheads and running costs compared to the traditional retail business model which requires having loads of stores in each major town across the UK.
There are rents and rates to consider, the utility costs such as electricity needed for lighting and running tills, water and possibly gas for toilets and heating. There are the costs of fitting out the stores with shelving, stands and equipment, there are the big costs of insurances, the cost of replacing products that have disappeared thanks to light fingered shoplifters, the cost of repairs after ’10 Stella’s Steve’ decided to put a road sign through the window on a Saturday night when he realised he was too late to buy a kebab and finally there are the wages that come with having so many staff. Offline businesses are very costly to run.
Change Is Inevitable!
It is a sad fact that when change comes people will lose their jobs. When the Miners were shouting ‘Coal not dole’ during the strikes of 1984 it was a desperate attempt to keep Britain in the past, what worked 20 years ago might not work now. No one likes to be out of work, (apart from those on Channel 5 documentaries!) but when one door closes others open.
Woolworths sold items that were becoming available to smaller shops like stationery and even household items, now they can be bought online and even personalized from the comfort of your own home by using sites like CafePress.com. How can these big shops still compete?
An ex Woolworths employee might have lost their job but today they now have the opportunity of creating an online store selling mugs, T-Shirts, notepads and bags with their designs and photographs using sites like CafePress or Zazzle for very little outlay. This was not possible 20 years ago, where a Woolworths store once sold to the local populace, a CafePress store owner can sell to people worldwide.
As the popular saying goes ‘when one door closes another opens’; the doors to the world have been thrown open wide. When I was printing T-Shirts and selling them on my eBay shop I was sending T-Shirts to place like Russia, Singapore, the USA and Australia. I was sending items abroad every week, many of the places I had never visited.
Musicians are now able to take control of their own music. Typically I cannot remember the name of the band I wanted to use as my example but I remember the story well. Several years ago there was a new young indie band that had been signed to a record label, they were quite good, they were fairly popular and even had records in the UK charts and an album out.
Surprisingly the record label decided to let them go, maybe they were not generating enough sales for the label – I am not sure. Record labels do spend a lot of money producing albums and promoting bands but with shows like the X-Factor coming along which creates the market for the winner and generates money from the voting system, the music industry has changed a lot. It has moved away from the old days where record labels risked their money on new bands so it is possible this band was a victim of the current state of the industry.
Does the band regret being left high and dry by their label? Not at all, in fact it is quite the opposite; to start with they might have been a bit deflated and miffed but now? They are in complete control of their own future. With social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and with music stores like iTunes, the band were able to keep growing their following and producing music that they wanted to produce, music which they were able to sell and promote themselves while keeping all of the rewards.
They can dictate where they go and what they do, they are completely free to go in the direction they and their fans want without the interference of the record label who were focusing primarily on getting back as much profit from their investment as possible.
How many people have we seen that have become stars worldwide because they took the time to use the tools we all now have at our disposal? Tools we take for granted?
The Scottish singer Sandi Thom, who was signed to a small record label, released a single “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker” which flopped big time. Travelling from a gig her car broke down and as she sat waiting an idea popped into her head, Sandi created the “21 Nights from Tooting Tour” which were 21 live performances from her basement flat in Tooting.
Tickets were sold but the basement could only hold 10 people with most of them being the band. These performances were recorded and put out onto the web, using the then popular social media network MySpace to promote her webcast she gained a following; she went on to do a series of live webcasts.
With the help of several national newspapers who ran the story, one of Sandi Thom’s live webcasts was watched by a reported 70,000 people. Record label A&R men flocked to her shows to see what was going on. Sandi was eventually signed to Sony and her single was re released and became a huge hit worldwide making it to the No 1 spot.
She has since gone on to released 5 studio albums and 1 Best Of album. There is more to the story, some say it was a well-planned marketing campaign where she had help with promotion by her tech savvy friends but what is great is how they took a flop, created an online buzz using tools and networks we have available and created a career for herself.
After releasing 6 albums and playing across the world at many great festivals, it is fair to say that she hasn’t looked back.
This is a changing world and that is good, people may lose jobs which is always a shame but when change happens new jobs are created. What people generally do is find something they enjoy (or at least are comfortable with) and want life to stay that way. When they are doing a job they love, working with people they like, it hurts when it is suddenly taken away from you. It is like being in a long term relationship which suddenly ends and you can do nothing about it.
You spend most of your day at work with your working friends so when it goes there is a big loss and a period of grief with a lot of fear, not only do you lose your daily life and work friends you now have no money coming in which can be very scary so losing a job is not a nice thing at all and not something to be taken lightly.
But when you look back at the days of the Miners strikes, there were no mobile phones, no laptops, no tablets, no websites and no internet. When you think how bleak it was at that time with many miners being made unemployed it was scary and you see the world getting worse.
But it doesn’t get worse, it changes, there are new advancements in technology and those advancements require people to make and sell these new fang dangled machines.
The internet meant people were now creating websites which opened up new doors for the young to become designers and coders, mobile phones have developed to a point where more people are employed to create apps and mobile technology. Do you think the BBC can suddenly appear on your phone without employing or hiring people who know how to do it? No of course not.
Social media has opened the doors for social media managers and people who now specialise in online marketing campaigns. Even your electricity company and your favourite supermarket now have dedicated teams monitoring social media for complaints, questions and enquiries. I recently contact Morrisons on Facebook regarding a missing quorn sausage when we had our shopping delivered.
The Amazon Kindle has allowed people who didn’t think they could become authors to write and sell their own books. Read the fascinating story about Nick Spalding here: Building A Profitable Self Publishing Business Using Amazon & Google
These ebook readers like the Kindle also need making and selling, yes many of the technical items are manufactured overseas but the world is shrinking around us, we in the UK can benefit from overseas workers too, especially if the work we want done is in the digital domain. Many people have become very successful by outsourcing work to people overseas and being nothing more than the project overseer.
Stay at home mothers and fathers can be paid to write website content, do research or even answer emails for people. A cheap computer desk from Argos, a relatively cheap laptop, an external hard drive for backup and a small quiet room is enough for many people to start making money from home. Joining outsourcing sites like Elance and Upwork can be a great start to finding work online.
There Is No Looking Back
This is a changing world, we cannot rely on others to give us job security, we have to rely on ourselves instead and that is the hardest part but there are so many new opportunities and ideas that we can get involved with.
Take Forex Trading as an example, 20 years ago a person working on a building site or in a shop would not be able to make money trading the markets very easily, you could I guess play the long game and buy a currency and hold it until it was ready to sell to make a profit. My dad’s cousin in Australia used to do that; he would get up early to catch the UK markets and brokers; he was probably one of the first to trade using computers, I don’t think I had even heard of eBay at that time.
That was 16 years ago, now it has become far easier for people to get involved in the Forex Markets and generate money using a combination of software. Some software is free and given to you by brokers and some tools that make the whole process easier and faster costs less than a pound a day to run.
We Minions work with a guy called Charlie who makes several thousand pounds in tax free profits each month from his home based office using just a computer, a good quality broadband connection and software that is available to anyone. He even appeared on a BBC documentary about successful traders, you can learn more about Charlie and watch parts of that documentary here: AdvantEdge The Simple One Click System.
Even gambling has changed; no more visits to the bookies on the high street having to take the odds you were given. People now regularly make money by trading bets at online betting exchanges like BetFair. Yes you read that right, trading bets, not placing them.
You buy a bet at one price and then sell it off later at a profit. An online betting exchange is different to a high street bookmakers, the exchange is an online middleman business, they make their money from putting two set of people together. The internet has made it possible for many ‘Joe Public’ people to open up a middleman business and become successful. Read Starting A Middleman Business & Profiting From Other People’s Work.
The days of having to be part of the ‘in crowd’ or move in the ‘right circles’ are over. The creation of the internet and the big worldwide online family has opened up so many ‘circles’ and ‘crowds’ to all of us. The doors and walls have be blown wide open.
We no longer need to be signed by a publishing house to sell books; we no longer need to even have paper books made from trees – which is great for the planet. We no longer need to be signed to record labels, we no longer need to press records or make CD’s which again is also great for the planet. We no longer have to buy printing equipment, inks or T-shirts to sell our own designed T-shirts worldwide.
I will say it again… This is a changing world.
What was not possible many years ago are now possible and in ways we never imagined, jobs have been developed as others have gone. Many shops and industries may be closing but that isn’t always down to the economic crisis, it is simply down to the evolution of society and change.
Is it time you invested in yourself to learn new skills and take control of your life to reduce the risk of this changing society causing you grief and harm? I will leave you with that thought.