The Industrial Revolution is dead.
In the next few years, this is going to rock your world and mine. So put on your seatbelt, because it will be a wild ride. You can survive these shifts—and even thrive. But only if you understand what’s actually happening.
Out with the old … In with the older
The changes that are coming aren’t necessarily bad, but they will be difficult. Because the new economy will be like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetimes. The world that’s developing right now is completely unlike the one we’ve known for the last 80 years.
The Industrial Age of the 20th century was actually an anomaly. That is, it was simply a detour on the road of economic evolution. In reality, the changes that are happening now are just a return to a more “normal” way of life.
The natural way of life
For centuries, economies were based on one-to-one relationships. Bob the baker, for example, served everyone in his small village. He was on a first-name basis with each customer, and could even predict when they’d drop in. He might even prepare a customer’s order before they placed it! Bob and his customers were tight.
Bob was concerned about quality and getting it right for two reasons:
- He actually cared about his customers (because he knew them personally as neighbors and friends), and
- He wanted to earn their repeat business
Back in the day, Bob lived and died by word of mouth. That’s simply how one’s reputation got around. If a customer loved the quality of Bob’s products and services, they told their family and friends. And those friends told their other friends, and so on.
On the flip side, if Bob messed up, he did everything he could to make it right … because he had to. The economy was based on interpersonal connection, trust, and integrity.
The unnatural Industrial Age
Bob’s way of life was pretty similar to the generations that came before him. But then about 80 years ago, things totally changed. During the Industrial Revolution of the 20th century, the economy went through a bizarre shift that disrupted traditional, time-tested one-to-one relationships.
New technologies suddenly developed that mechanized business processes. As a result, prices got cheaper and really big businesses like Wonder Bread emerged to gobble up mom-and-pop shops … like Bob’s bakery. Like a tsunami, the Industrial Revolution swept over entire communities. And over time, people lost the personal connections they had cultivated for centuries.
Then it got worse. TV, radio, and newspapers came along—making it easy to mass market products and services to millions of people. Advertising was invented to replace traditional word of mouth. And businesses adopted a one-to-many approach instead.
As businesses grew, quality and service took a nose dive. After all, companies could afford to mistreat their faceless customers. They didn’t care like Bob the baker had; they didn’t need to. Organizations learned that they could make money without being excellent.
The impacts of the Industrial Revolution
While the 20th century gave us many good things, it was also a very dark period. Because our entire culture became disconnected. Mass media told everyone what to think. And the very structure of organizations was totally dehumanizing.
Schools were run like factories—churning out students like nameless widgets. Batches of children were mass produced as “human capital.” And instead of learning a trade or adopting a family business, kids like us were urged to simply “get a job.”
The rat race became the only game in town. And the rules were simple:
- Build your skills and résumé
- Apply for any and all positions at a large company
- Then shut up and keep your head down
Businesses didn’t even want thinkers. All they needed was for you to “get the job done” in order to increase profits—just like a good, little worker bee.
Without even knowing it, we were sleepwalking through lives that belonged to someone else. During the Industrial Age, we lived as drab drones running circles in someone else’s hamster wheel. And we even started to think this was normal! In many ways, it was like George Orwell’s book “1984.”
The dawn of a new era
But just as the Industrial Age had grown its darkest, something happened. The Internet was born.
Like a small ray of light, it emerged as a new hope. And in only a few short years, it has completely changed everything. With new social media technologies—like Twitter, Facebook, Esty, Pinterest, and Instagram—we can once again establish meaningful, one-to-one connections with people. And mass media like TV, radio, and newspapers are dying as we bypass them to eliminate the middle man.
Once again, people and businesses can form real and personal connections. Word of mouth has returned to its rightful place as the best way to spread information. And high-quality products and services are again mandatory for success.
Using new technologies, Bob the baker’s great-grandson can finally open up shop. And what’s better—he can actually thrive more than ever before. Because now he can personally connect with far more people. His business isn’t confined to serving only a small village. His village is now the entire world!
What this all means for you
These new shifts in the economy may seem unsettling. After all, we’ve been conditioned to the Industrial Age way of thinking. But what used to be safe—getting a job and keeping your head down—isn’t safe anymore. It’s just insane. And, frankly, it’s no longer an option.
That’s because businesses are rapidly changing as they adjust to the new economy. The truth is, companies just not hiring like they used to. And they won’t be anymore. Instead, they’re outsourcing specialized services.
For example, rather than paying a full-time bookkeeper $65,000 per year (in addition to supplying her cubicle space, benefits, retirement, etc.) businesses are realizing they don’t need someone 40 hours a week to get the job done. They can simply contract with a self-employed bookkeeper for only 10 hours a week at a rate of about $2,000 per month.
Companies still need a bookkeeper, of course. But paying for a full-time position is overkill. Because many business owners are entrepreneurs who have own areas of expertise, they’d gladly pay a contractor to avoid dealing with the finances and taxes associated with running their business. These small business owners don’t know anything about accounting, and don’t really need to … because they can contract with our friend the bookkeeper to provide that valuable service.
By outsourcing their bookkeeping, the company saves a lot of money—which it can then invest into other projects that grow business. And it’s a win-win because the bookkeeper benefits, too. Now that she no longer has just one employer, she can find three more clients, gross a cool $8,000 per month, work from home, and maybe add another client since she no longer has a commute.
A set up like this is less risky for the self-employed bookkeeper because her income is from four or five different sources … instead of just one employer. And not only that, but she can also set her own hours!
Oh, yeah … and after kicking @$$ for a while, the bookkeeper can build some excellent word of mouth. Because one client will tell a friend on Twitter and then bam! Her business just grew. By living in a world of small, interconnected cottage industries, everyone benefits.
Bread makers, bookkeepers, and music teachers
The new connection economy of today is different. It’s hard because it requires that you no longer act like a faceless worker bee. It’s a challenge because it demands that you get outside your comfort zone, change old habits, and embrace a new way of life.
But the new economy is also an amazing opportunity. Because it allows you to live the life you always wished for. If bread makers and bookkeepers can thrive in today’s world, then you can, too!
Now is the time to live your dream of making music and getting paid . Now is the time to mix it up and meet people. Now is the time to have fun.
The Industrial Age is dead. You don’t need a million widgets to make money. You don’t need lots of “human capital” or a big advertising budget. All you need is passion and a few students to get started.
So get out there, do what you love, and love what you do! What’s stopping you?
Are you ready for the new connection economy?