I aim to cover progressive approaches to business. Reviews of fictional works don’t usually qualify. However, a novel I just finished seems germane to my “future business” theme: “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart.
Shteyngart explores one possible future that may follow from some of our current trends. He painfully describes in detail the distopian demise of the american society and economy. It would not be quite so painful if it were not obvious that we have already started down many of the paths he treads.
In his future, people have become fanatically involved in their personal information devices; to the point where face to face interaction has become somewhat awkward. People relate to each other based on a series of public scores/rankings. Starting to sound familiar?
In this fictional society the US is even more indebted to foreign powers who have grown impatient with our inability to handle our economic and social issues. Everyone is so worried about their personal status and their purchasing power that they have lost all sight of what it takes to create real value and drive an economy.
Happily, I can envision some different paths for the US. I am heartened by the new class of social entrepreneurs and the recent increased focus on education. We have a growing set of people with good ideas and the gumption to execute. If we can win the masses over from their sense of entitlement, innovation could usher in a new wave of prosperity. The US has a rare combination of access to capital, resources, and tools for innovators to succeed.
My hope is that more and more people will weave innovation into their day job, ideas they have for a side business, or social projects they pursue. Future business in this country can be even more successful than ever if the majority stop acting like cogs and begin working as engines.
Anyone else read this book? Even if you haven’t, what are your thoughts on where we are headed?
Human evolution included a time when the men were hunters and the women managed the family unit. As late as the 50’s it was the cultural norm for most households to have a single wage earner. Over the last 50 years we all know that has changed dramatically.
Two main trends have led us in the direction of dual income families:
- Women’s liberation – we cannot deny this is the major factor. Women wanted to pursue their goals beyond the home and they were culturaly empowered to do so.
- Cost of (desired) standard of living is exceeding the single income
It is the 2nd of those trends that I am going to examine. Many families have two incomes because they need to, not because they want to. They have upgraded their standard of living to the point where they cannot achieve it without a second income. Keeping up with the Joneses has sent everyone to work at 9-5 jobs. There is a nice side benefit of having two incomes: reduction in risk. If one is laid off, the family income is only partially reduced rather than completely eliminated.
Now with the economic downturn many families are realizing that they need to reduce their risk exposure even more. A standard of living that is consuming both of those incomes and accomplishing very little savings still carries an extreme amount of risk. Many families are focused on paring their spend, but in the longer term what can we expect? If the first time around, we let spending increase and sought ways to increase revenue (adding a 2nd income), why should we believe this time will be any different. Where can we go?….third income.
Because of the massively networked economy where one can start a business with a good idea and a lot of outsourcing, it is easier and easier to start your own business. I believe that many American families are going to be keeping their job each and trying to generate an additional independent business income “on the side”.
Has anyone seen any studies on this? I would love to see if my hypothesis is backed up by the data. While good for our economy as a whole, how might this impact corporate profits as salaried employees leave work earlier in order to focus on their third income?