Let me just come out and say it: 2010 was a pretty crappy year for many Gen Yers. (of course, in most respects, so were 2008 and 2009). Less than 25 percent of recent graduates left college with employment. Some 81 million young people unemployed worldwide--and hundreds of millions more underemployed--with youth unemployment in the U.S. standing stubbornly strong at nearly 20 percent.
Yep, not a whole lot of good news for us. Which is why this is my message to all of the young people out there:
It's time that you create a job to keep a job. In 2011, start a small business and leave behind fruitless job searches and dead-end underemployment opportunities.
Stop being passive and relying on resumes to open doors to your dream job. Stop trying to fight your way into a system that doesn't want you because you were told "that's the way it is and always shall be." This is not a job market, it is an opportunity market.
Mind you, I'm not advocating that you go ahead and just pursue any old business idea just because you're "passionate" about it. Regular readers know that I tell young entrepreneurs to stop thinking about building the next Facebook and start thinking about launching simple services such as tutoring services and cleaning companies.
My 2011 advice is no different.
Bootstrap to build a minimal infrastructure company that is simple, unoriginal, and capable of generating immediate revenue—and, more important, a basic income from which you can begin to build your financial future.
You may say in response, "Sure, Scott, that sounds great and all. But it's not a real option for me. I'm broke, in debt up to my eyeballs and don't know how to get started." To which I'd respond, "So what? Stop making excuses, get off your behind and figure it out or face continued unemployment and underemployment." Harsh, perhaps. Possible and realistic, absolutely.
In 2005, I received the biggest ass-kicking of my life. My previous company nearly bankrupted me, leaving me with less than $700 to my name and a big chunk of debt to boot. Sure, I could have tried to seek a "real" job. But I didn't. I knew that wasn't who I was, nor was it what I wanted my life to be. Instead, I learned from my mistakes and hard knocks and with little money, no business education, no outside resources, and no mentors to guide me, I figured out how to launch Sizzle It! and turn it into a profitable business—which it still is to this day. So as you can imagine, the "I can't do it" arguments don't hold much water with me.
Nor should they with you.
And the truth is, you can figure out how to be an entrepreneur too. True, entrepreneurship isn't easy, however, it isn't overly complex either. At it's core it is selling something to someone else. What is hard, is getting yourself motivated enough to get started. But just like a resolution to go to the gym, I strongly suggest this is one resolution you must keep.
While I'm asking you to make a resolution, allow me to make one as well. Give yourself the chance to build a business in 2011 and my Young Entrepreneur Council and I will continue to fight for you with every ounce of our beings. Together, we will work to provide you with educational resources, advocacy, and opportunities such as the Gen Y Fund. I truly do believe everyone can be an entrepreneur so long as they stay grounded and focused.
I hope you'll prove me right.
Happy New Year!
Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, author (Never Get a 'Real' Job), TV commentator and founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.