by: Geoff Ficke

In a Jobless Economic Recovery Why Not Create Your Own Job?

These are troubling economic times in the United States and in Europe. Even the least informed citizen instinctively understands this fact. Government debt is piling up, countries are bankrupt, companies are downsizing and hesitant to hire in a time of grating uncertainty. The party environment enjoyed during the decades of the ‘90’s and 2000’s, built on debt and a credit bubble, has been followed by a real psychological and fiscal implosion. Very few people are not being deeply affected and facing real lifestyle diminishment in this environment.

The simple question I most often hear asked by prospective clients at my Marketing Consulting firm is this: “There are no jobs, how can I find a way to make a living”? The answer to this most elemental question varies widely depending on a person’s background, skills, interests, available financial resources and personal makeup. Invariably the path forward that is most open for many people is to create their own position.

We live in an age where for the first time in history there is a social safety net provided by government and service agencies in most developed countries. For most of human history everybody created their own job. There was no state assistance or welfare except for religious charity. People lived, worked, married and died in the same town or village where they were born. Mobility and portability of both travel and skills was almost unknown.

Today we have forgotten how difficult subsistence life was as recently as the early 20th century. The availability of government assistance in many varied forms has dulled instincts, ambition and the ability to accept any level of risk for too many people. However, for others the loss of a career or job has been the impetus for personal reinvention and the discovery of opportunity in fresher, better pursuits. These hardy souls create their own jobs and incomes.

I am not suggesting that everyone can succeed without someone else providing their job. Most people simply cannot make it as a solo operator. Entrepreneurs, and a sole proprietor is the incarnation of an entrepreneur, are always willing to take risks. This eliminates those that reflexively look to others for opportunity.
Recently I met with a Retail Chain Store buyer who had been down-sized. She had received a small severance package from her employer, and as I Consulted with her she readily confided that she had not enjoyed her work for a number of years and was keen to take the Entrepreneurial path. I probed her for information about hobbies, skills or passions that she pursued and enjoyed.

My prospective client shared that she was most keen about her hobby of Engraving. She showed me a selection of her work. For a number of years this lady had been providing friends and family with commemorative etchings and engravings applied to substrates such as pewter, marble, granite, wood and other surfaces. The work was of excellent quality. This lady had honed her skills but had never before considered selling or commercializing her work. The layoff from her buying position had forced her to start thinking outside of the proverbial box.

My firm organized a Business Plan, Sales Model, Branding and Marketing Strategy, and Public Relations campaign to introduce the etching service. The client was driven, ambitious and thrilled that she was providing a service that was pleasurable and fulfilling both for her and her customers. Recently, while executing her Business Plan, she expanded her service by renting a Kiosk in a major regional mall. She has hired college students to man the kiosk and is in the process of expanding to a second location. Sales have expanded to the point that as her severance funds are almost exhausted, she will be able to support her family on the revenue her new Enterprise is generating.

Immigrants almost always come to developed countries without language skills, deep pockets or connections. Invariably they become self-employed and many advance to build prosperous small businesses. A man with an old pickup truck, a ladder and a tool box can find gainful paying work in any neighborhood. Hauling, lawn care, painting, simple building repairs or trimming trees are only a few ways that an aspiring workman can create their own job. The housecleaning service that we use at our home is owned by a lady from El Salvador who labored herself in homes and has built a crew of three women who she now employs.

Another example of creating one’s own job, and small business opportunity, is seen in a client whose passion was babies. Her own children had been memorialized in a number of unique ways and she was often asked by friends if she could provide commemorative treasures for them. Plaster of Paris molds of baby feet and hands were particularly popular with parents of neonates. My Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm suggested that she expand the service and as Sales traction occurred introduce a packaged version of the product so that parents and grandparents everywhere could experience the pleasure of interacting with their infants in this most endearing way. The fully packaged version of the product is now being readied and will be introduced to the Juvenile and Baby Product Retail Market this fall.

We have worked with people who were avid Golfers, Hunters, Fisherman, Cooks and Bakers, Artisans, Inventors, Estheticians, Athletes, Hobbyists of every stripe, passionate Herbalists, Fashion designers and many other types of skill sets possessed by people seeking to turn their interests into their work. In almost every case, the result is an opportunity for those willing to create their own job. They even have fun and enjoy what they do for a living.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.