Do Your Own Thing

Do Your Own Thing


Recently I had a client in my office struggling with the fact that his kid wants more money for extras but won’t seek employment. He keeps hearing a lot of buts to his advice to go out and get a job. “But dad, all the good jobs are taken around campus.” “But dad, I can’t consistently know when I have time available to show up at a part time job with a shifting assignment load.” “But dad, the experience won’t help me down the road.” All of which can actually be legitimate rebuttals, my client admits, while all the same wondering why it has to be on him to put gas in the kid’s tank.

Legitimate buts if….

If… we assume a lack of help-wanted signs means a lack of income opportunities. If…we assume work has to be done according to a set schedule. If…we assume college jobs get left behind when graduation rolls around. If… we assume we must be an employee. But why assume such things?

Every day legions of entrepreneurs, free lancers, contractors, and mom and pop businesses in every town earn an income on their terms. They set the time, the product, and the pay. Look around at some of these self-employed folk. You’ll quickly realize that, while the typical student lacks resources and skills, many viable enterprises don’t require much capital or technical know-how.

Many businesses of all sorts didn’t start out with anything more than any ambitious college student can quickly lay hold of. I know hundreds of successful house cleaners, window washers, event organizers, social media managers, aquarium servicers, auto detailers, landscapers, tailors, go-fers, dog groomers, eBay merchandisers, caretakers, security guards, physical trainers, building painters, web page builders, junk haulers, entertainers, pet groomers, swimming pool skimmers, handymen, firewood suppliers, equipment installers, consultants, copywriters, shade tree mechanics, and artisans (to give just a few ideas) who got their start, and now operate, with handshake contracts, minimal cash, and basic equipment.  Perhaps my favorite story involves a laid off engineer who grabbed a shovel and a bucket and from there built a lucrative business scooping dog poop from yards in his area.

The best part about self-employment is that it often means you can choose how you get paid. Unlike most part-time jobs, you need not work by the hour. You can instead join the results economygetting paid according to a certain outcome. Make your pay based on a result and clients and customers need not mind that you put the final touches together at 2:00 a.m. or that it only took you an hour to make this $100 thingamajig for them.

And who knows? With a few spare bucks and the grey matter between your ears you may just come up with the next Dell Computers, Facebook, or Venus Swimwear. All of which, by the way, were started by college students working on their idea between classes.