My parents did a very smart thing when I entered high school. Rather than worrying over whether or not I would continue to take French class – and it’s still my regret that I decided against that – they made darn sure that I took keyboarding. I’d already been typing for years, but the hard skill that developed out of that one class overtook much of my natural speed, and made me a more efficient typist.
Keyboarding was a secret skill. It gave me a leg up over time.
It wasn’t prerequisite for anything when I took it, and was treated like a throw-away class by most. I was lucky – I’d broken my arm the previous summer, so I actually had a sense of lost ability I wanted to get back. Other students did the minimum required speed, kept under the maximum allowed errors. I turned it into a grind.
Fast forward fifteen years. We’re in the internet age. I type for a living – guess what? If I’d never taken keyboarding and regained – at personal cost – the skill I lost when I broke my arm, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog (because I wouldn’t be writing it).
The new secret skill is not a hard skill, it’s an entrepreneurial approach to life, the universe and everything.
I work for a small business – the number of jobs I do at Modern Earth covers more than the entire scope of some small entrepreneurial ventures or solopreneur businesses. I’ve learned more about not just management, but business (because there’s a difference) since I came on in February (bonus points; see the letter I wrote to retail when I left) than I had in five years before.
Looking for openings to grow a business, addressing diverse and unique problems, being agile in the face of dropped balls (because you will drop things, don’t even try to fool yourself otherwise) is now a distinct advantage. The ability to juggle large numbers of projects, manage people in human ways that help them grow their own personal business (even within the construct of a company) and get things done with celerity and great fortitude… These abilities are what we see all around us when we look at examples of resilient businesses, startups in the tech sector, or non-profits making massive strides on behalf of the people they server.
Entrepreneurship is now the business equivalent of opposable thumbs – the way simple computer savvy was in the late nineties. Except I’d argue that, unlike the hard skills that have proven secrets to success in the past, the very social and communal nature of entrepreneurship has the capacity to change much more than just available jobs.
In five years, entrepreneurship will be an essential survival skill.
Business owners have it already. Many people working on the web and building their skills, their personal brands and, in some cases, their businesses also have a natural tendency towards self-directed professional growth.
What can you do to prepare yourself for the coming trend of increased independence?Where do you see the advantages – and perhaps disadvantages – of this trend in your business?
Better yet, how can you embrace this personal – and professional agility now, before it becomes mandatory?
Image by eGuidry.