Recently, I interviewed Rudy DeFelice of Bizinate, a website geared toward helping Americans become more entrepreneurial. The mission statement is as follows:
Based in Los Angeles, Bizinate’s mission is to launch a million new startups. Bizinate.com is the easiest place anywhere for new entrepreneurs to start and run a business.
I sat down with Rudy (virtually speaking) and dug into his thoughts.
Shara – I’ve been researching finances and the job market lately. In my small town, people are either not working at all (and receiving government money to live on), living on their retirement funds (if they have any left) or… working more than one job (the middle class and working poor). Are you seeing this trend in other locations, too, or primarily in rural areas?
RD – There are certainly regional differences, but the statistics support that what you’re describing is a national challenge. Real wages for production and non–supervisory workers (most of the workforce) has been trending down for almost 40 years. Unemployment is high, a large block of homes are underwater and international competition is steadily increasing. So a great many Americans are feeling economic pressure. Many people feel like they have cut what can be cut, so getting by on whatever you can is where many people are all over the country.
Shara – My husband and I both work from home and we rely on multiple streams of income. I’m seeing an uptick in more families living this way. I assume you are, also. Tell me more about this, from your experience, and why you value entrepreneurship.
RD – More and more people are taking their economic futures into their own hands by starting a business. It used to be hard to do. One of the things that we’re committed to at Bizinate is making it easy – if you have ambition, we can help you launch a business in just a few minutes. Entrepreneurship is becoming more important because the foundation of the American Employment Dream – that you could expect lifetime employment with health care and a pension is seriously fractured. But the upside is that people are taking to entrepreneurship, using their creativity and ambition to create new companies. In the end, that’s very stimulative of economic growth. In my view, more innovation and entrepreneurship is one of our best routes to continued prosperity. So while painful for some people, I believe this is an exciting time.
RD – I think many people are starting to regard their economic life the way a company would. A company doesn’t strive to have all its income from one client – it tries to diversify. If one client goes away, there is a base of income to survive on. People are looking at their personal economic life that way – with several streams of income. It’s safer in some ways, and many times it’s a lot more interesting.
Shara – In my town, I’m seeing that small businesses are shutting down, people are losing their jobs because the businesses cannot sustain employees any longer, and those who do keep their jobs are taking pay cuts. Everyone has less. In your opinion, the only way to overcome this is to take on another job, correct?
RD – I wouldn’t say taking another job is the only way to deal with this. But it is one smart way. My company offers a way to set up a simple business offering services or selling goods – ours or yours – which you can do in your spare time. Things like that should be explored. The upside of starting your business is it can provide diversity to your income, as well as extra income. Also, it can change your life. Small businesses sometimes get bigger, and that can be transformative. Most people with a steady job have no hope of something transformative happening in their careers, and people thrive on that excitement. We need hope in our lives, and running your own business gives you something to work towards.
Shara – I have owned my own business for several years now. My husband has owned a business for 23+ years. We are seeing a trend with the people who hire us: they let us know that they have less to spend. Which in turn, gives us less. It’s a cycle. They spend less. We make less. Everyone has less. Are you seeing this, too? For instance, a company may have hired us several years ago, for $500. Now they say, “I only have $100 to spend. Will you accept this?” I looked over your site and saw that many people are offering services for incredibly low rates: $5 here, $20 there. Is this where things are at now, long term, do you think? Working Americans must accept that they will be earning less and in turn, work even harder, to make ends meet?
RD – I would certainly agree that general economic challenges are causing downward pressure on some services. Competition from outside the country and from automation internally are adding to that. So we should probably all prepare for the fact that things we used to count on will change. However, there is more change, more diverse demand and more opportunity than before. So I advise people against doing the old thing in the new world. So people will need to be more creative than before, but the upside is it is easier than ever to try new things.
Shara – What jobs do you recommend? What jobs do you consider effective, offering a decent and reliable income? Are you coaching people to do jobs that already fit their skills sets?
RD – In our company, we advise people to build a business that reflects something they already care about. If you love working with your hands, offer to build things or do repairs. If you do a craft, sell some of the things you make. If you play an instrument, offer to teach. Doing what you love to do as a business is a dream and a fulfilling way to think about unifying who you are and what you do. We recommend that people start a Bizinate company that reflects who they are.
Shara – What can you do for kids and teens?
RD – We are committed to first time entrepreneurs of all ages, and make it simple to get started. We have a track for kids with parental controls, where parents and kids can work together in a safe environment. It’s a great family experience as well as something that can bring experience, money, and perhaps create the life path for young people.
Shara – A recent article stated that the Middle Class is losing faith in the college process. They feel that there are not enough jobs to be found anyway, so why bother paying that kind of money to get an education now? Their kids might as well go to Trade School and get a Trade job. What do you think about this?
RD – I take a “different strokes” approach to education. Higher education is a great experience, but you can lead a full life and have a great career without it. You are wise to consider the costs and benefits and not choose college automatically. I went to College, then Law school, then Business school, because I love education and wanted the experience. But some of the best entrepreneurs I know dropped out. It has never been easier to be successful without a pedigree.
Shara – What is your goal with this website and business model? What do you hope to accomplish?
RD – Our goal is to launch a million new businesses through Bizinate. We’ve been very public about that commitment. That will have a profound impact on a lot of lives as well as the economy.
Shara – Any final thoughts?
RD – It is in challenging times that the greatest changes come. So I advise people to consider any financial hardships they have as a reason to change the game and look at their economic life in a new way. While the treadmill may be getting more crowded, there is limitless opportunity for those with the courage and ambition to chase a dream.
Shara – I’m grateful to Rudy for answering my questions. I found his replies open, helpful and hopeful. I especially enjoyed this statement: “A company doesn’t strive to have all its income from one client – it tries to diversify. If one client goes away, there is a base of income to survive on. People are looking at their personal economic life that way – with several streams of income. It’s safer in some ways, and many times it’s a lot more interesting.”