Webster: Economic development begins with each of usWritten by Jules Webster | | firstname.lastname@example.org
My Jan. 19 column, “Schedule C for artists — made simple,” shared some basic information regarding Schedule C, the IRS form attached to your 1040 tax return that breaks down profit and loss for businesses operating as sole proprietorships.
It’s very possible that you are employed full time by someone else’s company, and don’t think that information related to keeping solid expense and profit records applies to your economic situation. You may be right. However, each of us has some sort of talent, skill or service that can be of benefit to the community and can be sold for income or traded for other goods and services within the market.
In the past 60 years, the United States has shifted from a manufacturing to a service economy. Think of all the goods and services that used to be home-produced — most food was home or community farmed, meals were home-cooked and the majority of clothing was made by Mom. Today, we purchase most of our food precooked from grocery stores or fastfood restaurants, and the average person under the age of 30 does not know how to repair worn out or torn clothing. We went from self-sufficient to almost helpless in two generations. As a society, we spend an enormous amount of capital on “ready-made” consumables, capital that could be saved or invested in enterprises that contribute to our long-term well being and financial security.
I’d like to challenge everyone to rethink how they earn their money to pay for their basic needs. Although many are simply thankful to have a job in this “down” economy, others find themselves unemployed or under-employed. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, let’s assess what each of us can do to contribute to the “economic recovery” of our communities and our personal household finances. It’s true that when one door closes, another opens.
If you have lost your job or have had your working hours reduced, this could be your opportunity to review your lifestyle and create a positive change that is also financially empowering. What can each of us do to reverse the unsustainability of consumer-driven lifestyles? What skills or expertise do you have (or could you develop) that are in demand in your area? How can you create income and wealth from your God-given talents and education?
I’d like to encourage everyone to “think outside of the box.” What sort of a job would you have if you could redesign your life from the ground up? Think of what you wanted to be when you were a child. Did you want to be a doctor or a teacher to nurture others? Did you want to be an artist and sell your paintings? Did you have a love for animals and want to be a veterinarian? Although it may not be possible to go back to school and change professions completely, you can start a small side business that is a derivative of your hobbies and interests.
Those who enjoy spending time with others can become an after-school tutor or babysitter for children of family and friends. If you enjoy animals, create a pet-sitting or dog-walking business. If you have a passion for art, why
not offer lessons to children and retired adults in the community?
There are myriad goods and services we can each contribute to the market. Some other ideas for creating capital include: baking breads and sweets for sale, refinishing and refurbishing old furniture, and offering janitorial/ home cleaning services. The changing seasons also present opportunities for seasonal employment. You could: clean snow from cars and sidewalks, transport elderly community members to the store and to doctors’ appointments, or knit scarves, hats and blankets. In the summer, landscape and plant gardens, paint the exteriors and interiors of houses, repair automobiles and assist homeowners with routine maintenance and renovations.
Remember that it’s also possible to create demand for your labor through advertising and marketing. I never thought that I would be able to make as much money as I do selling Shine and Gloom Ceramics.
Always be optimistic. What would you create for yourself if you knew you couldn’t fail? Positive change and economic development within our community starts with each of us.
Jules Webster is owner of Shine Ceramics and Shine 419, a division of the business created to promote Toledo’s vibrant creative scene. Visit www.shineceramics.com or e-mail email@example.com.