Office at shop

Invest in Yourself

Office at shop

David at the shop

At 24 and working my first job outside of the family business, I discovered how perspective could influence ones worldview. A co-worker referred to us as working for the manufacturing company where we were both employed.

“Working for the company?” I queried. “I thought the company worked for me”.

Having no customers and no capital to invest in a business, how was I to earn a living? The answer was quite simple. I entered into a business relationship with a firm that had all I needed and needed what I had to offer. I hired this company and agreed to pay for their services with a percentage of my productivity. In return they agreed to provide all that I needed to ply my trade.

We, the workers were actually the paying customers of this management firm. We were free to devote our undivided attention to our individual crafts. We found and served customers, managed, purchased, financed, developed products, manufactured, shipped, received, maintained, and strategized, each to our own abilities. Together we created a complex money making machine. As in all business without us, the customers, this business could not exist.

As complex as this machine was, it was bound only by handshake agreements. Everyone was free to end the relationship whenever it was no longer desirable. As I stated, this company worked for me and I was always free to shop elsewhere.

The reason I bring this up is a disturbing experience I had yesterday. Attending an investment seminar, I was appalled at the advice given to young people today. The speaker implied that a worker entering the workforce should invest in the stock market to provide for their retirement in the distant future. While there is nothing wrong with building a nest egg, investing in others business is not the way to go about it. Having always been self-employed, I would suggest investing in yourself.

My advice to you kids out there is this:

  • Do not rely on a job and or nest egg. Jobs disappear and nest eggs do also.
  • Become a journeyman, invest in yourself and follow the path that makes you grow.
  • Embark on a life of continuing education, whether in a trade, profession or managing your own business.

Yesterday I asked a group of students to consider the following. Most small businesses consider a twenty-percent annual growth rate to be normal for a healthy enterprise. The company where I am presently employed considers itself to be a 240 million-dollar per year concern. Its growth plans are to do 600 million. That’s 240 to 600 without much in the middle. Compare that to a job and a paltry 401K plan. It seems kind of silly.

©12/05/08

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