As we approach the 4th of July, I'm reminded of our country's early history. Once again, we will joyfully celebrate the birth of an independent nation. However, for millions of American families, financial independence is just a distant dream. I worry because so many are struggling for economic survival. In fact, three out of every ten adults today have zero dollars set aside for emergencies, according to a Bankrate.com statistic cited by the Los Angeles Times recently. As we honor the courage and foresight of our founding fathers, let us also recognize the great importance entrepreneurs have had in shaping our destiny. We need them now more than ever, and we must do all we can to encourage and nurture the next generation. I believe that new entrepreneurs are our primary hope for creating more jobs and reinvigorating a prosperous middle class. My motivation to help is simple: I want to share lessons I learned, having started at the bottom first as a kid from the streets of New York during the Great Depression, and evolving into a successful, serial entrepreneur.
Challenges facing business startups in 2015 seem especially daunting. Offshoring, tight lending policies, changing markets and regulations, and sophisticated technology are just a few of the issues. In the current economy we do not have the comfort of using yesterday's solutions. More and more we must rely on our own resources to gain financial independence. The old security blanket of cradle to grave jobs has vanished, and we no longer can look to major corporations, trade unions, or government agencies to have the answers.
In spite of the economy's upward trend recently, our workforce continues to suffer from low wages and the disappearance of major industries. Potential entrepreneurs need to pay close attention to what this market is telling them. First, there are not enough good jobs to sustain and support the majority of Americans as it stands now, and this dilemma, sadly, simply will not change. Continuous advances in automation will see to that. Second, when pursuing the great American Dream, seasoned marketing professionals know that the greatest opportunities lie in catering to individual and small business needs. This is the route budding entrepreneurs should take. Increasingly, our country has developed into a true service economy, albeit a very complex one. Powerful Internet marketing tools, scalable Cloud computing, and constant software upgrades provide new service opportunities unimaginable even ten years ago.
Every generation will produce technology pioneers like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk who invent revolutionary new products and services. They seem to have a genetic pre-disposition toward genius, but for the majority of us, the non-geniuses, the best solution is still to be entrepreneurial, even if only to earn enough income to cover the difference between expenses and earnings. Wealth generation through the creation of new small and medium-sized businesses will strengthen our economy and make our individual lives happier and less stressful. I speak from seven decades of experience, which have provided me with knowledge that is invaluable in an ever-changing market. I've lived, learned and profited knowing that every down-stroke has an upstroke, and there is money to be made in either situation.
Drawing from this deep pool of practical experience, I have created a five-step process called The Nadel Method that takes most of the risk out of starting a business and dramatically improves chances for success. Looking at the challenges holistically, I realize that it is not only necessary to re-educate ourselves, but to change many of our attitudes toward earning the means we need to survive and thrive. As author of a number of books about entrepreneurship, I am often asked by the media about how to create more jobs. My answer is very simple: evolve more entrepreneurs. How do you evolve more entrepreneurs? Teach them targeted thinking and methods that remove the majority of the risk.
The greatest cause of start-up hesitation, I believe, is fear, as I've previously written about here on The Huffington Post. The first step in The Nadel Method is to reduce the anxiety in the entrepreneurship equation and replace it with genuine joy at the ease with which a business plan can be crafted. For many, this journey should start immediately because millions of adults are just hanging on. They need answers now, and it is my desire to bring an entrepreneurial approach to the very forefront of our national dialogue.
My first suggestion is to concentrate on changing the time, method and cost of acquiring an education. Two or four years and thousands of dollars in higher education costs are no longer an option for many, nor is it one that I've seen predict an individual's or new venture's success. As in almost everything else today, it is imperative that new learning materials be as easily consumable as possible: on-demand at home, during a commute, on break time at work, and on any device with Internet. The current market leaders and new innovators in this space of on-demand learning, such as Lynda.com and Thrive15.com, are proving the value of mentors and teachers who have actual experience in their chosen fields. Their effectiveness stems from their experience in real world applications and not just from abstract theory alone.
Creating a personal "Financial Independence Day" for all people is a very ambitious goal and will require much innovation and commitment, but it is entirely possible. Whatever your business plans, my goal is to help give you the best chance possible to make it happen. If you have no idea what to pursue but need to put more dollars in your wallet, I urge you to start with Step One of my method: Identify a Business Idea That You Love (and genuinely inspires you).
A few years back, I was teaching a business course at the University of California, Santa Barbara. One of the first questions I was asked was, "What is the right business today for me to be in?" My answer to this question as always is, "What is it that you really love to do?" This is the first question you must answer; then you find a way to turn what you love to do into a business. When you make this choice about your career, however, you must clearly understand your strengths and weaknesses. There is a difference between a wish and a goal. A wish might be to play point guard for the Lakers. An achievable goal might be to work with an NBA team in their marketing or sales department or to become a supplier to an NBA venue or retail outlet.
At the advanced age of 91, my chief mission now is to actively pass the baton to as many as possible through writing articles and books, creating streaming videos, and sharing my knowledge with students and media outlets. From the heart, I can say that achieving financial independence through entrepreneurship will allow you to make positive choices in life, particularly for the decisions that matter most. No one should have to suffer or fight so hard just to survive, especially in this country. As we honor our nation's Declaration of Independence in 1776, let us also embrace the goal of personal independence in 2015. It is a path inspired by individual initiative, hard work, and our country's unique spirit of ingenuity.
Jack Nadel is a 91-year-old Hall of Fame Entrepreneur, decorated veteran of World War II, and author of the award-winning book, "The Evolution of an Entrepreneur: Featuring 50 of My Best Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Business" - winner of five Global Ebook Awards including three Gold Awards for BEST in Business, Leadership and Careers/Employment - part of the inspiring e-book and streaming video low-cost learning set for entrepreneurs, available on-demand (www.JackNadel.com). He is the founder and chairman emeritus of Jack Nadel International, a global leader in the specialty advertising and marketing industry. Jack is also the author of other books, including, "There's No Business Like Your Bu$iness," "How to Succeed in Business Without Lying, Cheating or Stealing," "Cracking the Global Market," and "My Enemy, My Friend."