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Traditional Career Planning Is Dead. Here's the New Path to Financial Security.

Find out ways you can grow in your career by thinking outside of the box post-pandemic.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Everybody likes the idea of going out and making a living in a way that’s uniquely "you." We’re curious about what sustaining ourselves through entrepreneurism would feel like and what doors it would open. But with the pandemic tearing through the world, the look to entrepreneurism isn’t out of plain curiosity anymore. People need alternative ways to work and live as much as they want them. And more and more, we see that the traditional approach to career planning isn’t as gilded as we thought it was.

As the old way crumbles, a new way is already here

In the past, most people followed what I call the 45-year plan. You went to school, developed a skill or trade and then landed a job with a company. If you were lucky, you’d work there for decades, only to retire old but (hopefully) well off enough to maintain your lifestyle and be happy.

But now, the pandemic has exasperated a full range of issues that already were present in our world. There are layoffs and attrition in just about every industry. And as individual businesses tumble, the very way we commonly think about and do business is becoming antiquated too. Before we used to do business face-to-face and complete transactions over coffee and a handshake, but now we're transforming into a digital society. This change has its challenges. But it also presents amazing opportunities, and entrepreneurism stands out among them.

Many elements have created the perfect storm to ripen our entrepreneurial spirit. We’re no longer tethered to the office; we can work and partner more globally than ever before, and we've watched wages stagnate as costs mount. We have new ways of connecting with the public to know what they want or need.

Covid-19 was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. When millions of people lost their jobs and spotted new opportunities that the virus crisis laid bare, the pandemic pushed thousands of would-be entrepreneurs to finally dive into their ventures. Business startups in the United States skyrocketed from 3.5 million in 2019 to 4.4 million in 2020. That’s an increase of 24 percent, more than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or G20.

So the new way of approaching careers isn’t coming. It’s already here.  

Related: The Best First Jobs for People Interested in Entrepreneurship

Why entrepreneurship is a great approach

For years, financial gurus preached that people would be fine, so long as they saved in the right accounts and invested a little with a diverse portfolio. They considered assets like Social Security and pensions and trusted that earning power would go up over your life as debts went down.

Most people are coming to understand that the traditional advice isn’t going to make them secure, let alone get them ahead. Retiring comfortably from a conventional job isn’t realistic for the majority of workers. To make it all work, you increasingly need multiple income streams that offer supplemental income.

There are more options than ever to bring in cash passively — affiliate advertising, for example. But with entrepreneurship, there’s a high potential for your income stream to grow over time with your business. You can learn real skills and meet fantastic people who can mentor you. You can be your own boss, and there’s no limit to how many ideas you can bring to everybody. It gives you a real foundation to fall back on.

With the enormous growth in entrepreneurism, buying and selling online has exploded — further accelerated by the pandemic. Although many have not yet fully committed to buying their daily needs online, the numbers don't lie — it’s becoming the norm. Online entrepreneurs are reaping the benefits of sales commission like never before, and there are more options to do this with reputable companies in this day and age.

However, the top reason entrepreneurship is the right approach is that it allows you to impact others positively. Instead of just bringing in money, you can help others overcome obstacles they have, boosting their quality of life.

Related: 5 Daily Habits of Six-Figure Entrepreneurs

I’ve always believed that we’re put here to make a positive impact on others and that the best way to ensure your happiness and success is to first help others achieve those things for themselves. Helping others discover different ways to sustain themselves economically has a ripple effect of positivity and empowerment. Success isn’t really success if you’re the only one experiencing it. Entrepreneurship is one of the only options that makes winning a team sport — it’s your best way to see the big picture and make the world a little brighter.

There’s little doubt that these are challenging times. We need a new contingency plan to fall back on that’s going to give us an economic safety net. We need to be more flexible, as the world is showing us how rapidly change can hit. Most of all, we need to help others as we help ourselves. Entrepreneurship delivers or permits all of these things. So if you want fulfillment and security, take that great idea you’ve got and run with it. With hard work, the investment in your concept will make you future-proof. 

Related: How (and Why) to Tap Into the Career Potential of Your Young Workers

JR Ridinger

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

JR Ridinger is the founder, chairman and CEO of Market America | SHOP.COM, an award-winning global ecommerce and digital-marketing company specializing in one-to-one marketing, and creator of the Shopping Annuity®. For more information: www.marketamerica.com or www.SHOP.COM