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Hope in the Lousiest of Economic Times

Small Business Owners and Solopreneurs
“Everyone now knows that the best time to start a project is when the economy is lousy,” says Seth Godin’s current blog. Seth is the author of The Bootstrapper’s Bible and a top-100 blogger who knows a thing or two about business startups.

If you had parents raised during the Great Depression, as I did, it may not be so easy to think of bad times as the best of times for a starting small business. But President Obama, who is a boomer, though just barely, said something very similar to Seth’s remark when the economy crashed after the election. He said that a crisis was an amazing opportunity for change.

Control Your Own Income Stream
Everyone seems to know young people who can’t find summer jobs, new grads who are underemployed, or union and manufacturing workers who lost their jobs when their industries died or relocated to Mexico or Asia. But many baby-boomers have lost their retirement savings, their job security, their health insurance, their jobs or their hope and sense of worth.

Even my friends who still are employed are worried that they’ve put all their eggs in one basket—a basket that could fall apart and break all their eggs. So, of course, it is a very, very good time to take your income streams into your own hands—and away from banks, pension plans, 401Ks, Wall Street and large corporations—it only makes sense.

You Are a Citizen of the World
Former in-laws of mine, who ran a successful family business, used to say, with feeling, that they’d rather own the candy store on the corner than work for somebody else. And right now, while it still takes a lot of hard work to start and grow a business, entrepreneurship is an option that is open to more people than ever before—simply because the Internet provides an avenue for business startup that involves much less capital outlay for focused and persistent solopreneurs.

And the Internet has also become a huge forum: a source of education and knowledge, community, easily identifiable niche markets (endlessly variable baskets), inexpensive marketing techniques, superb customer relationship management, multiple income streams, even hope and self-worth.

Boomers are especially prepared for these lousy economic times. Many of us became survival-oriented during the cold war—when nightmares about nuclear devastation were prevalent in books, movies, political discourse, and our own dreams. We’ve experienced rapid, radical changes in our society, peaks of violence and crime as well as of wealth and greed—and perhaps the greatest sense of isolation since the early pioneers moved Westward.

In our hearts, we know that this is both one of the worst of times and also one of the best of times to connect with fellow citizens of the world-as-a-single-city ... and to start a project.