You may have seen the headlines: Payless is about to announce bankruptcy, and (to no one’s surprise) Sears is doubtful it can continue.
Meanwhile, I just read this first-person account, which doesn’t strike me as out of the ordinary:
I have friends who work in a local mall. The place is often nearly empty. It has a Sears, Macy, Fella, Victoria’s Secret and more. The town has had an influx of those economically forced out of Oakland, CA. There have been 4 shootings at the mall in the past year. Three were justified and the shooters had a CCW permit.
The place has died and doesn’t know it yet. I encourage my friends to get another job. All know what is happening, but just hang on as is.
The CEO of Urban Outfitters just told the Wall Street Journal: “Our industry, not unlike the housing industry, saw too much square footage capacity added in the ’90s and early 2000s. Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared. This created a bubble. And like housing, that bubble has now burst. We are seeing the results — doors shuttering and rents retreating. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future and may even accelerate.”
That’s all true, no doubt, but it seems difficult to comment on the problem without mentioning the obvious culprit: the Internet.
So as retail struggles, eCommerce is exploding like crazy.
Smart people are adapting. Lots of people aren’t. “All know what is happening, but just hang on as is.”
As we know, the carnage isn’t just in retail.
It’s in newspapers, which are drowning in red ink.
And it’s at universities, where according to Bain & Company, over 60% of institutions are on an “unsustainable financial path” or at financial risk.
This is what it’s like to live through a social and economic revolution.
Naturally, the government schools have done nothing to prepare people for this. It’s still pretty much: “Go off to college and major in sociology.”
Do these kids have any idea how to start a business, particularly an online one? Do they have a skill someone might be willing to pay for? Do they know how to drive traffic to an offer?
They do know which words they’re allowed to use and which ideas they can hold, and how to recycle their trash. Things like that.
But how to prosper in a revolutionizing world? ::crickets::
What to do?
1) Young people: consider an unorthodox path, pursuing something like Praxis, which will give you on-the-job experience and at the same time cultivate your entrepreneurial instincts. Details: http://www.tomwoods.com/praxis
2) I wrote a free book about how I make my living online, and I’ll bet you’ll find some actionable stuff in it. Grab: http://www.PathsToIncome.com
3) Create a business-card website, showcasing your knowledge and skill. Populate it with news from your industry, book reviews, commentaries, whatever. You will stand out — and either not get laid off (because you’ll seem more valuable than your peers), or you’ll be in a position to bounce back or get consulting gigs if the unthinkable should happen.
My guide to starting a blog or website: http://happyearner.com/how-to-start-a-blog-in-five-minutes/
Meanwhile, it seems appropriate to recall this 1998 doozy from Paul Krugman:
“By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.”
Thanks for your insight, Paul.