How can you help others learn the skills required to increase their own income?
There is an old saying that you cannot lead people where you have not been yourself. It makes sense really as you need to have done the reconnaissance so that you know what works and what does not work.
If all you know is how to find a job and there are no jobs out there for the people you want to work with what do you do? There are many who would say set up your own business and just get on with it. That is easy to say for someone who has not done that but how do they know what it really involves. How can you be an effective support to someone else unless you know what it is like to walk in their shoes? God thought it was a good idea to reassure us that He knew it was like to be a human, even one who who suffered more than we are ever likely to do. In the same way we need to reassure those who are looking to us for help that we know what it is like to face and overcome challenges.
The challenge itself
Setting up a business is not something for wimps. It means stepping out and doing things that stretch you and that often demand a lot of inner strength. It involves persuading other people that you can add value to their lives and that you should be rewarded for what you do for them.
How can you persuade others that you can add value to their lives if you do not value who you are and what you do? If you value who you are then you will charge prices that will make it easier for you to survive financially. If you value what you do you will be able to persuade others to buy what you have to offer them. Knowing how valuable you are and how you can prove that value to others is essential if you are going to succeed in the business arena.
It means facing up to your fears. It means facing up to the fear of rejection when people do not buy what you want to offer them. It means facing the fear of the unknown when starting something new.
It means stepping out on your own without the support services those in a job take for granted. If something needs doing you have to find a way to get it done. Either you learn to do the accounts or you hire a book-keeper.
Going into business is not a get rich quick scheme. However, it is probably the best personal development programme that you could ever embark upon.
Learn from doing
We look at people who have succeeded in business and forget that in order to get to that exalted status they have had to face some failures as well. Teachers talk about discovery learning i.e. setting up ways of learning by doing. Entrepreneurs learn from their unsuccessful business ventures, the launch that flopped, the product that did not sell. Many tell the story of the thing that they did not do in their first business that eventually caught up with them and put them out of business so teaching them a valuable lesson they never forgot.
There are no guarantees in business. Some things work and some things don’t. Experience shows what you need to put in place to minimise the risk. Failure is always a possibility. In fact when it comes to business start ups the majority do not survive past their first birthday.
However, it is possible to succeed. In fact in some communities being in business is the norm. They know that the skills and attitudes needed to succeed can be learned. In fact setting up and running business ventures has become part of the informal learning that takes place within the family. That used to be very common in the UK until the industrial revolution when one factory with its economies of scale took over the work done in many many little cottages. A few generations later people are struggling to find jobs in these factories and they have been left floundering because those skills and attitudes are no longer taught in their community. In fact some would say that rather than being taught how to succeed in business they have been taught how to succeed in a job and know nothing about how to survive without one.
Lead from the front
Are you are up for the challenge? Do you recognise that you have what it takes to stand up and be an example for others to follow?
One of the secrets to success is to try something on a small scale and if you can make the idea work then expand on the idea. Closely associated with this is the idea of testing things carefully to see what is the best way at that time and in that situation to do something. Some even suggest trying to make an idea work in a secluded place or behind the scenes so that you can test it and refine it before it is exposed to the world at large. To be honest that is often the secret behind the so-called overnight successes that we admire.
What does this mean in practise? It means setting up a small money making projects to see if the idea you have actually works. It means setting up pilot schemes that are used to test your ideas. It means setting up a small business in addition to the job you are already doing so to that you learn the practical skills and soft skills required to make a success of it.
Some would say that everyone, whatever their circumstances, should, embark on that kind of project so that they are better prepared to face an uncertain future. However, even after being out of work for a while it is not too late to start such a project.
What is the alternative?
When there are no jobs to be found the only thing that you can do to earn money is to set up a business. In fact it was during times of hardship such as in the depression of the 1930s and Russia in the 1980s that more people try setting up businesses simply because they have no alternative if they are going to survive financially. There again many of those who thrived during the hard times found that they laid the foundations of financial success beyond their dreams when times became easier.
The other alternative is trying to survive on benefits. That in itself is not easy. Managing to live on a low income takes a lot of effort and surviving in that situation is in itself a huge challenge. On top of that the Welfare Reform Act 2012 has caused a lot of concern to those living on benefit as it has led to to many people needing to find ways of living on even less than they were before. There again this could be only the first step of the process of trimming this part of the government’s budget.
Food banks and money management programs can only go so far. In fact without people willing to support them financially and in other ways they are pretty much dead ducks anyway. Many would like to support them financially but cannot. That is another reason why helping people to increase their income is a good idea. More income means they are better able to give money to the good causes that are dear to their heart.
The government is trying to enforce the law surrounding illegal lending and therefore tackle the menace of loan sharks. Yet they still prey on people in need and cause more heartache for them. The idea that people are taking out short term loans at huge rates of interest simply to buy food is shocking but a survey done by a debt management charity in September 2013 has found that over 1000 people have done just that. A small survey of a particular group of people but it does show that people are willing to admit that is what they are doing to try and survive.
The online world is no better in terms of predators. It is a case of buy my product, my book or join my group and I will share with you the secret of how I earned more money than you could dream about and still had the time to spend with my family. A small fraction of people do succeed in making money online but it is possible to spend a fortune on different projects and programmes and still not succeed. Some of the things available for sale are rubbish and navigating that world without a guide is extremely difficult. Enough people do well enough to persuade others to keep going but most fail. There again those who find ways of making money from those who try and fail often do well.
I nearly forgot there is also the cost in terms of relationship breakups and even on occasions children going into care. There is the cost in terms of physical and mental illness. It is not unknown for people to believe that the only way to escape a loan shark is suicide.
Is this for everyone?
Quite honestly no! It is for the brave. Sometimes it is those who are plain desperate who succeed. Some stories of online success tell of people who were reduced to living in a car but then found a way to make money and started back on the journey to where they are now.
Others tell of how they managed to start and maintain a business while spending time at home with the children. There is the computer programmer who works from home so he is there for the children while his wife works full time in the church. There are many women who work from home while their children are at school or in bed.
There are the people facing the challenge of medical issues or disability who have found something that they can do despite their physical challenges. These include a guy who can do little more than speak who teaches others how to write as well as he does and earns enough to pay for all his own care needs.
Some people are just plain called to start a business for others it is simply a vehicle they need to use to follow their calling.
As you can see I have not sugar coated my message. I know times are hard and I believe that they could get worse. If that is the case then it is essential to think about some long term strategies to help both ourselves and others. Strategies that maybe we would not think of using in good times but that if we were honest would also work well then.
I know I am not the only one thinking along these lines and wanting to try this approach. What I have decided to do therefore is set up an online club. I have called it the Christian Online Business Club. Parts of the website will be accessible to all but most of it will be for members only. The aim is to create a safe space to discuss ideas and to share what we have learnt. There will be some training available as well as some expert interviews.
In fact it will not be that dissimilar to a local bricks and mortar based business club apart from the fact that we don’t start a meeting with a buffet. Like that kind of club there will be a subscription fee.