Great news for business mentors. Bad news for small business owners.

Americans quitting their jobsPeople are voluntarily quitting their jobs at the highest rate since the pre-recession era, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey — known as JOLTS — published by The Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This was the headline of a Business Insider article and you can read more here. Later in the article, author Vivian Giang, quotes Economist Robert Reich: "at least [for] now, a few employees feel they can do better as consultants or freelancers," because "they've been required to take on so much extra work they need more control over their time. Although the labor participation rate is extremely low — the lowest it's been since 1979 — employers are demanding longer work hours from those who are employed". I find the stated reason why employees quit their job to be totally laughable.  First, because throughout my career, I don't recall working less than 10-12 hours per day. It wasn't what was expected of me (although many in the corporate world believe that turning off the lights while the boss is still around is a major brownie point when review rolls around, or better yet, scheduling emails to be sent out at 8 pm to show how late you work). I worked hard because "this is who I was and what I did". It was part of taking your job seriously and making a difference.

So, let me get this straight - you work really hard at your job (duh, recession, outsourcing, fierce competition, etc.), you feel exhausted and unappreciated so you are going to trade it for being your own boss. Great. Welcome to the world of business ownership where you have no life, no steady paycheck and no guarantees. Right, on paper, people are going to line up waiting to hire you because you know so much, you have 1,400 friends and your LinkedIn network is 500+. Good luck.

This is great news for the overcrowded coaching/mentoring world. Your target market will grow exponentially with millions of rookies (according to the same article above 40% of the workforce by 2020 will quit) who are about to take a really really cold shower.

For those of us who have been in the trenches and on their own, this is really bad news. Supply will now exceed whatever demand there is, and fighting for survival will become routine. How many so-called "consultants" work for nothing or very little, just to survive? Although as professionals with experience, we know how to promote value and benefits, price "dumping" as it is called in the industrial world, hurts everyone.

Don't get me wrong. I fully support entrepreneurship and being in charge of your own destiny. I have made the transition myself. I work 16 hour days and face competitors and "I can't afford" excuses everyday. But, I am the happiest and most fulfilled I have been in over thirty years. The incredible experience of not being held back by incompetent managers or bosses, and having the ability to maximize your true potential by helping others achieve success is worth every penny I earn and every dollar I miss from my steady paycheck.

What does it mean for those of us who will face the "gold-rush" onslaught of consultants and new owners seeking a better future and shorter working hours? How can we protect ourselves against the dilution of value and the shift to price-based economy? Here are some thoughts:

  1.  Do nothing. Stick to the Plan. The Marketing Plan that is.
  2. Work exceptionally hard to increase and validate your customers' positive and value-based experience.
  3. Protect your turf. Be diligent with your competitive analysis and monitoring.
  4. Measure. Measure. Measure. Anything and everything especially your retention and conversion rates, and your customers' experience.
  5. Take nothing for-granted. Don't assume that a loyal customer will stay with you forever. Never give them reasons to go elsewhere.
  6. Be creative. Try new approaches and fail to learn.
  7. You'll have 2-3 years head start on the rookies while they fumble and struggle. Most will fail but don't count on it. Those youngsters who are technology-savvy and learned to Tweet before they learned to walk, will become a force to reckon with. Technology will help them overcome their lack of business experience.
  8. Here's a novel idea, not for those with a big ego. As you spot new competitors in your market, size them up. Go after the talented ones, hire them, give them equity and use their energy to propel yourself forward.