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Plan on Earning a Living? You’re in Danger of Becoming an Entrepreneur!

The Close School’s resident sage sheds light on prospects for entrepreneurs in the U.S. job market.


February 10, 2015

By Dr. Roy Carriker


The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for business ventures.” However, with massive globalization fueled by the rise of the Internet age, the world of earning a living is morphing with amazing speed, resulting in an ever-growing number of self-employed wage earners, i.e., entrepreneurs.

Many who once worked for a firm or had planned to are finding they are now independent contractors, not being employed by a firm or person, but rather being paid to perform tasks for personally developed customers or for third parties via Internet intermediaries such as Uber, Handywork or Innocentive.

Today it is estimated that 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is comprised of contingent or fractional workers — a number that is expected to grow to 40 percent by the end of this decade.

In the decades ahead, the odds of you becoming an independent contractor are on the rise. As an independent contractor, organizing, operating and assuming the risk of yourself as a business, you will have become an entrepreneur.

Even if it was never your intention.

Why this matters:

The rise of the self-employed is only going to accelerate. As global market competition grows and product/service life cycles shorten, firms are increasingly loathe to assume any expense which isn’t absolutely necessary and viewed as core to the firm. This is being exacerbated by the rising cost of making employment mistakes, coupled with rapid obsolescence of goods and services dramatically shortening their life cycles and, sometimes, the need for the attendant expertise, i.e., specific employees. Firms are driven to be evermore flexible to survive and flourish. A major component of this flexibility is the hiring of talent only on an as-needed basis.

Bottom line: Keep your head up with regard to your intended career. Information is all around you. What professions are already heavily tracking the trends cited above? If one of them happens to be in the career arena you had planned for yourself, examine how you could be more flexible and/or entrepreneurial in your career options.

More and more, entrepreneurship is becoming a necessary “habit of mind” for the individual, constantly reassessing your options on the road ahead in earning a living over your lifetime.

Says Carriker: An entrepreneur friend of mine once told me: "Learn, earn, return." After 55 years of learning and earning around the world, I am returning.

Roy Carriker is a Teaching Professor and Director of Technology Entrepreneurship in the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. He is also a School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems senior executive in residence.

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