For years now i have been extremely concerned about unemployment in the west and specifically the male over 40 demographic group.
So while i go about my business i am continously thinking about ideas of how I could help enable people in this unpleasant circumstance make ends meet.
Its all good and well for one to say "Start out on your own" but heck that is easier said than done and how the heck does one do it when you are unemployed and have no money and what little you have left after long a long period of being unemployed, you are extremely afraid to commit to what is statistically a risky process.
Well one of the things prevelant in business today that you might not be aware of and may give you a different way to look at things is the concept of Barter.
When we get stressed we often find it very difficult to "Think outside the box" because pressing issues such as survival occupy the mind.
However i have been fascinated by money or I should say currency and by this i dont mean the paper or coins issues by various governments but the concept of means of payment or reward.
Essentially currency in a broad sense is having something of value to someone else that you could trade with them in return for something they have that you need.
If you stop for a moment and consider we have all universally adopted government money only because of its universal applicability in the area we live in ie our various countries.
However if you stop and think about it, we all engage in barter without the use of legal tender.
When we use a free website with advertising, we exchange our very presence there for use of the site. That presence is converted into advertising dollars.
When we use a credit card and recieve airmiles we getting to barter use of that particular card for the airmiles which in turn we barter for a flight.
In my network there are members that belong to specific barter networks where they exchange services between each other. This can happen between a dentist /lawyer/ and and electrician. The lawyer needs a ceiling fan fixed and calls the electrian, they keep score and next time the electrian needs a letter of demand the lawyer obliges.
So think about this concept of Bartering because if you aint got the funds to start out down the self employment route this could be a way to ease the pain a little.
Why? You most likely after 40+ years of working life have many many skills if you do as i have said before and write your life story you will discover them. Some of those skills could be bartered with others in return for all sorts. Dont always think in terms of money. Some people might have recieved a gift card to a local dinner, they dont need the meal out but they have a broken toilet that needs a little tlc. You might be handy in the plumbing area and be able to do a trade. That exchange does a number of things.
It makes you feel you have a value to the rest of your community.
It makes you feel wanted.
It puts something on the table to eat.
It saves you having to lay out some form of currency for food.
It exposes you to other possibilities until something else comes along or the economy improves.
It gets you out of the stress mode and on your feet.
I could probably go on and on.... but i think you get it.
So look around you, take note of what is going on in your immediate community. Consider how or what you might barter with others for things you need.
Its all good and well we say "what should this cost or how should i price this my time is worth more or if i continue this way i might as well be working at XYZ for minimum wage, but sometimes in your area even those jobs are not forthcoming, what then?
When you start out say in woodworking on your own, one thing you have tons of until you find a customer, is time. So why not make somthing with the wood you have. Make something you can trade/ barter for what you need.
Take a side step, remember Stu kindly fixing the tray at the Sushi joint near him, or fixing the chairs. Now he did this out of the kindness of his heart. But when last did you look around your community dinner or coffee shop and check out their "whatevers" and say "Ya know mr so an so i could fix that chair for you in exchange for xyz worth of your product or services.
Dont take this the wrong way, its not meant to be a long term solution but when i look at the huge numbers that we are talking about in terms of unemployment its going to be a heck of a long time before the picture changes so its time to come up with some alternative strategies. This is only one.
Take shovelling snow for example. You might exchange it for a ride when next the neighbor goes, to the grocery store. That saves you gas and stretches your dollar that you have.
Its time to be innovative, use that pioneer ingenuity thats dormant in your genes and if you have any of my inherited kind of english pride, throw it out leave it to the queen, cause if you dont start bartering and dealing in some way shape or form your situation could get worse before it gets any better.
In my view dont go getting rid of your tools. That is the last thing you ever want to sell. Tools are an extension of your hands and can help you barter with someone that say is like my brother in law and dont know which way up to hold a hammer.
If you mechanically minded just think of something as basic as offering to change the oil on your neighbors car instead of them having it done at the local drive by.
For those of you that are sitting pretty right now and have a job or steady income, I urge you to think about reaching out to your neighbor thats unemployed. You could prompt this whole idea and get them going.
No!!!! you say. Well think about it. This is actually in your own interest too. You might be sitting pretty right now, but if a number of people in your area end up in repossession because they could not make the payment on the rent, your home value drops, vacant homes attract crime, crime affects everyone, and hey it makes no sense for criminals to prey on the unemployed so who they going to look to.
Dont turn this thread political. I have posted this in the interests of us as a woodworking community getting creative about helping our felllow woodworker that might just get some inspiration that would help him/her have a better day, one day at a time. The problem is huge and way larger than we think and it aint going away quickly so in my mind its time for some creative thinking and problem solving ideas rather than dreamy suggestions.
i will try from time to time to add some other ideas as i come up with them in the event they might help just one person get over this crisis.