The Middle Class Problem Is Now an Emergency: Entrepreneurs, We Need You!

Over the past several years, the gradual decline of wages and the consequent shrinking of the middle class have become alarmingly apparent. In fact, a newly released study indicates that income inequality in the U. S. is now at its highest level in a hundred years. Americans today are really living in a 21st century Gilded Age. In 2012, for example, the top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country's total income.

How does this compare globally? The U.S. now has "the highest income inequality in the developed world. It follows only Chile, Mexico and Turkey among all nations," as stated by Mark Gongloff from a study shared here on the Huffington Post.

Compounding this trend, unemployment rates have remained high for several years, and, unfortunately, but realistically, outsourcing, automation, and other technologic advances mean there may never be enough good jobs for everyone. In effect, low-wage jobs are becoming the new normal. "Six of the 10 occupations expected to see the fastest growth this decade fall into this category, led by retailing, food service and home healthcare." What makes this more disturbing is that taxpayers are really subsidizing businesses with minimum wage employees. An article by the LA Times editorial board shared that, "A recent congressional study estimated that low wage workers at one Wal-Mart superstore receive about $5,800 worth of safety-net benefits each annually."

Approximately 45 million Americans are now living on substandard wages, and they need desperately to supplement their incomes. All across the country fast food workers and retail clerks have been protesting wage levels that cannot sustain single persons much less support families. Nevertheless, because many are offered only part-time work, they will continue to struggle just to stay above the federal poverty line of $15,510 a year.

In a just published book Average is Over, economist Tyler Cowen suggests that income inequality is here to stay. In a recent NPR interview he stated his belief that Americans are now living in an age of "great stagnation" and that this condition is more or less permanent.

Based on my 67 years in the global marketplace, however, I would strongly disagree. I believe we can dig ourselves out of this hole. Certainly, we cannot rely on government or benevolent corporations. The solution lies within each of us. We must create our own jobs. With training and encouragement, I am confident that this can be done.

Entrepreneurs are one of the greatest resources of our economy. They create the dynamic that nourishes growth and innovation. Entrepreneurs also serve as major job creators. One reason for optimism is that today, the opportunities are even more numerous. Rapid advances in technology are constantly opening doors that never existed before. And the tools we have available to work with are much more accessible, efficient and useful.

Since markets have changed so dramatically, it is time to change our thinking so that we might capitalize on these conditions. We cannot solve today's massive problems with yesterday's answers; we must realize that much of what we used to do is now rendered obsolete.

Today's potential and budding entrepreneurs must learn to target their thinking in very specific ways. This is how they will spot the opportunities. "Find a need and fill it" has always been one of the golden rules for success that I've been advocating for decades. Targeted thinking also requires you to learn how to really listen. If you want to solve a problem you must know the full complexity of it. We are all individuals and our needs are different and constantly changing.

Since the beginning of my career, I have been creating and refining what I call "The Nadel Method," a critical thinking and qualification methodology for entrepreneurs outlined in five clear steps, aimed at providing a clear process for business success and proficiency. After nearly 70 years of business experience, I am confident that entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, industries and levels of business knowledge can utilize The Nadel Method, outlined online, available as an easy PDF download, and included as a section in my latest book, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, featuring 50 of My Best Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Business.

In January 1946, I was discharged from the Army Air Corps after having survived aerial combat in 27 bombing missions. With just a couple of thousand dollars in termination pay, a high school education, and a burning desire to succeed, I entered the world of commerce and kept my eyes and ears open. After the devastation of World War II, an entire world had to be rebuilt and opportunities were everywhere. The radically altered circumstances of our current business climate are similar in many respects.

Early in my career, I learned how to sell advertising to a targeted audience. I said at that time that you could actually measure the results of marketing efforts. In the world of general advertising back then, you could tell how many people were able to hear your message, but most had no way of knowing how many actually bought what you offered to sell. In today's world of search engines and social media, the Internet can tell us what people are looking for and even identify who those people are.

I have often been asked whether entrepreneurs are made or are born. I firmly believe that each one of us can effectively educate ourselves to become operating entrepreneurs, if the motivation is there. Each deal contributes to the next deal, and every success conditions our minds for the next step. My goal is to assist all those hard-working people who want to succeed and are able to learn the golden rules and critical thinking processes that make success not only achievable but also inevitable.

Seventy percent of our economy is driven by domestic consumption. If our nation's workforce is just barely scraping by, then who will buy our goods and services? Our GDP is bound to shrink unless we act swiftly to restore our middle class. Evolving entrepreneurs is a viable solution that will build-up our economy from the inside out.

Jack Nadel is the author of the award-winning book, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur: 50 of My Best Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Business ( He is the founder and chairman emeritus of Jack Nadel International, a global leader in the specialty advertising and marketing industry. Jack, founder of more than a dozen companies worldwide, 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.
E-mail: Jack(at)JackNadel(dot)com.