I was turned down for a job yesterday. Don’t worry. Finding the right job is like finding the right house. You only need one, even though it makes sense and can be fun checking out lots of them. (And feel free to pass along leads.) And as one well-employed friend pointed out, I probably shouldn’t take the first one offered. Besides, businesses are filled with people, people can become friends, and friends should be treated well.
A friend runs a business that is growing and could use some part-time help. A simple idea has hit a sweet market niche. I was honest enough to mention in the interview that I’d have to continue applying for other professional jobs at the same time, at least as long as my liquid assets are in their currently dehydrated state. Where’s that rising tide? Even if I took the job I’d continue searching to find enough to cover the mortgage and my other bills. If I ended up in a full-time job I’d have to quit my friend’s business leaving them right where they are today, or worse if the growth continued in the meantime. They’d have to train someone again and in less time. We’re part of a friendly community. I couldn’t be that mercenary. Besides, maybe one of my friends will get the job.
I have many friends working at businesses they never expected to own and run. Gordy makes camera straps. Frazer sells DIY off-the-grid hot tub kits. Janice teaches dance. Brian and Kachi sell herbs. Mona makes chocolates. Sarah sells outdoor gear. Mix and match at will, but only their friends would probably guess which ones worked high-tech, geoduck farming, airline operations, and teaching. Some of those businesses are earning them a living wage. Some are at least keeping their owners very busy. I started off as an engineer, and have picked up the labels of karate instructor, writer, author, photographer, public speaker, teacher, and now consultant. I doubt that any of us aimed at these targets.
Artists particularly fall into the camp of following unexpected passions. At least where I went to school, such pursuits were discouraged in favor of professional collegiate careers, or life-long skilled labor in the mills around Pittsburgh. Wait a few decades and some slim remembrance of a high school hobby can resurge as a long-suppressed passion.
Making a living as an artist is less certain than as an entrepreneur, though each is effectively a self-written lottery ticket. The odds may not be very good, but devote your time, effort, money and resources towards something you care about and it may become a best seller, a modern art marvel, or a greatly expanding business.
Most entrepreneurs and artists start small, and therefore start frugally. They understand how small things can have large effects, and they appreciate each sale and each bit of progress. In most cases, that shows through in what they provide, typically simple quality.
Malls are defined by excess. Most of what’s for sale is unnecessary and largely driven by massive advertising campaigns that convince millions to collectively spend billions on things that are likely to end up stuffed back into boxes in storage, or eventually in the landfill. I don’t shop in malls anymore, though I do admit to an occasional visit to see how the mainstream flows. It is an amazing Las Vegas style spectacle when viewed from even a temporary remove.
I intend to friend my friend’s businesses this year. Sorry Frazer, I don’t expect to buy anyone a hot tub, and with my funds remain limited I will limit my shopping, but as much as I can, I’ll buy from friends. It’s more fun, more convenient, has more of a story behind it, and I know that the money will probably remain in my community, strengthening it, which is an even larger gift.