Four Old-School Ways to Thrive in any Economy

Four Old-School Ways to Thrive in any Economy

Reader Comments (111)

  1. Great post, Sonia,

    I’ve just had my salary (and hours) cut by 30% at my day job and this has given me the transition path I was looking for to get my own business going properly (been tinkering with it for months!)

    Also, with some luck, I can devote more time to TS and make quicker progress there too. (I’m hugely enjoying what I’ve covered so far, but moving more slowly than I would have liked).

    So – yep – I’m fired up about this. (And I’ve written several posts in the same vein as this one).



  2. Wow we were just thinking about this today. Having a job is a comfort and security for us at the moment but we are also excited by the prospect of not having a job (and are prepared for it). I think you need to identify your passions and more importantly your strengths. Discovery and Creativity are passions in all of us but our unique strengths make us unique in the marketplace.

  3. Thanks for the post. I once had a terrific teacher in business school, who in each class would repeat — when growing a business, use your creativity an not your money.

    Now, I often find myself advising business people that everyone has all the motivation and creativity they need inside of them, already. We just need to learn to do less of what gets in the way.


  4. I’ve never been more excited. I know the world around me is sweating, but I’ve never seen a horizon so gilded with promise. Sure, I’m a little freaked out, but for the most part, exhilaration swallows my anxiety without chewing. I come from a long line of family, on both sides, who built their futures by themselves. It may not be the best time to rely on a signature upon your paycheck, but it’s a tremendous time to turn to your internal DNA and punch all the potential that simply isn’t possible with a time clock.

  5. Just keep in mind .. it will get better one day .. an till than excel and innovate in everything and do a bit more , greetings from the Netherlands (Europe)

  6. THANK YOU!! I sort of waffle between the two attitudes you mentioned at the start of your post and can’t tell you how much I needed to read something like this. I especially liked:

    The cool part, though, is that if you make something handmade (even if it’s delivered in pixels), personal, and/or magnificently useful, your village can and will find you.

    I’ve totally seen this happening in the craft scene, and it’s magical. Folks want things that are meaningful and have a story behind them.

  7. I am also in the process of starting out my own business and many people around me are doing the same. The main reason for most people is that they are tired of being sheep! They want to have passion in their work and truly believe in what they do. There aren’t many of us that can truly say that we love what we do and this is why are trying to find this by becoming entrepreneurs!

    Just remember this quote, “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves”

    Get out there and do it, don’t be a sheep!

  8. Excellent post. The time to start is right now. I am not so worried about about losing my “trading my time for money” job any more because I have found a way to self reliance. I am just grateful that I still have the time to “practice”.

  9. Excellent Post. I rarely make comments, typical lurker of the masses but I had to give you kudos for expressing your entrepreneurial spirit! About 5 years ago I was completely disgusted with my career and decided to open my own company. Best risk I’ve ever taken. For all you out there thinking of the same, please do it! Focus and ride the wind, put your blinders on trudge forward and don’t let anything stand in your way. By all means please do not take to heart what comes out of the news, just remember they are in the business of selling news and getting ratings not necessarily informing.

    –Grove Patterson–

  10. Great post as usual. For some reason I have felt that there will be more opportunities out there now despite the poor economy. Thanks for the advice.

  11. Right on! We are given this opportunity to find and follow our soul’s purpose. Taking orders from someone else is not it! We all have unique and creative gifts to offer and are being forced, if not already, to discover them.

  12. Great Post, Sonia!

    In this changing economy, we ALL would be hard pressed to remember some of the points you talk about here & remind ourselves this is only a phase.

    The trouble is mainstream media (and the entire mainstream itself) is in trouble as a whole. However, it seems like smaller independent companies are surviving at a better pace than the big, bloated companies. The problem is no one reports on them because they don’t know they exist.

    So it’s nothing but doom & gloom…

  13. Excellent post! It’s always nice to hear about when “Main Street” companies are making a comeback. It seems like all you hear these days are about how Wall Street companies aren’t. The future is with the small business owner who takes his or her unique gifts and talents and then acts on them.

  14. Hi there,

    Good post, with the recession in and salary cuts and job cuts… everyone needs to turn to an outofbox solution to survive in such a situation. I’m scoping the internet for more ways to survive the recession and the impact is has had on individuals.

    Eddie Gear

  15. First off, I am Excited about all the opportunities that are ahead. Personally I am sick of, everyone talking about all the doom and gloom. I really believe that if we just shift our attention away from the Recession, it will heal itself.

  16. Hi Sonia,

    What a great post! Although I’ve only recently become directly involved in our Web 2.0 era, I too believe that “the villiage is back”! It is an exciting time and I appreciate you sharing the positive side. We are all aware that every cloud has a silver lining, we just need to be reminded sometimes.


  17. Hello,

    I found this article very interesting, for several reasons. One of the main reasons being the four points of human success in a recession. I truly believe that every person holds a creative, flexible, resilient nature. People are going to make and find their own ways to success. Some of the greatest innovations and greatest creative successes have come out of the most depressing times both economic and social. I believe that the community is seeing its come back. For years neighborhoods unraveled and individual households kept to themselves. You could look out your window see a neighbor moving out and wonder who was moving in and who was moving out; and it you even cared. I truly believe that neighborhood cohesion is making a come back, a reliance on our community for services. Instead of taking children to a over priced daycare, people are going to look to community members to watch their children. Homegrown vegetables to be traded for knit scarfs and home made decor. These things might sound gregarious but at the same time hold a real truth and possibility in communities today. No matter the idea is that communities will become more self reliant and rely on each others prosperity, safety, and comfort. Dont be afraid to make good with your neighbors, after all you may need them in the future.


    Mathew UWF

  18. Hi Sonia,
    Your posts keep getting better! This and “Is Your Tribe Holding You Down?” are top-notch writing, and they inspire. As someone else has commented, you’re on fire! Thank you so much.

  19. Excellent article! Thanks so much for succinctly stating what I’ve been thinking for a while now. I’ve been a contractor for a while = constantly getting laid off, constantly having to revamp my resume, constantly having to learn new skills, constantly having to promote myself for the next gig.

    Tough stuff at times but it’s been darn good training for how I’m reacting during these times.

  20. I began the process of getting my latest venture up and going last November, I finished the work this month. I thought there might be some problems with my timing since it seems like the whole world is falling apart. However, I was wrong.

    Small local businesses are actually thriving in many parts of the country especially online. Big Business can and frequently does leverage it’s future to a quick death but the small business man, woman or family knows better.

    I hate to see people lose their jobs too but when I lost mine right after 9/11 I took my ideas and day dreams and started making my own way.

    Long live the entrepreneur!


  21. Most people in this terrible time often mourn what once was, in this time we have rebirth our creative streak and ignite our passsion so we don’t have to mourn what once was. The only person you can count on in these tough times is yourself, so what was once the death of something will always provide new and even better opportunities.

    Erica Bell

  22. Another fine example of why I read Copyblogger religiously:

    Using Social Media to profit from our own fantastic, creative human nature.


  23. Couldn’t agree more. Thanks Sonia.

    The way I look at it – during a recession, the number of people who “need help” grows exponentially. So, if you are the one who can offer SIGNIFICANT help to those who need help, you automatically stand out and are “in demand.”

    In other words, recession offers a huge opportunity for anyone who can create huge opportunities for others 🙂


  24. I wholeheartedly agree that “the opportunities that have opened up because of technology and communication are nothing short of breathtaking.”

    These technologies have allowed us to go out there and try something with little investment, see if it works, build on it or tear it down.

    I see it everyday over at

  25. Fantastic article, Sonia! Thanks so much for the timeless reminders in your post. Well done!

    I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life and have ridden many cycles up and down over the years. These are unquestionably changing and challenging times. However, I’m confident that there are and will always be opportunities for those who take the initiative to seek out and satisfy the wants and needs those opportunities represent.

    A recession is actually a great time to build a business, especially a freelance/contract business like mine. Find needs and fill them. Expand your skill set and make yourself more useful. Be persistent and resourceful. Expand your sphere of influence using amazing tools like Twitter. Never give up.

    Thank you again for a very welcome positive and encouraging post! Very much appreciated!

  26. Ahh, good ‘ol fashion self reliance is coming back in style. It’s the best thing to pull us out of this tail spin. We have to prop ourselves up, from person to person, family to family, neighbor to neighbor, town to town, and state-to-state to rebuild this country. Go plant a garden, make your own coffee, wash your own car, mow your own lawn, do your own work and bring more of yourself to your job than you ever have before. You can’t help but be successful.


  27. Being an entrepreneur isn’t (necessarily) about making physical things any more. The value you can create now comes from your own wisdom, perceptiveness, style, intelligence, flexibility, and creativity.

    It is awesome to think that given the above that anyone with an Internet connection, a computer, and a healthy portion of all that you mention above can truly just start typing away on their keyboard and create something great that will not only provide value for others but bring in a nice sized chunk of change.

  28. Actually, the ‘prehistoric cave dweller’ is believed to have spent around four hours a day gathering sustenance. Toiling for survival didn’t come into play until the development of agriculture and, subsequently, specialized labour and hierarchical social order. When populations were small and mobile, hunting and gathering wasn’t that taxing.

    But yeah, I’m picking a nit here. AThe article is very sound advice.

  29. Brilliant.

    I was writing the other day about being part of a counter insurgency of people with practical & positive actions.

    I’ve always been Time Wealthy & Money OK … and it just provides so many opportunities to develop and explore new ideas … share info with other people … be brave …

    Roll on the revolution.

  30. Great article. How true this is in this economy. I have also had a major portion of my income cut. On one hand I am scared stiff because things are so tight but on the other hand it is helping to push me to start another business for myself and also giving me the time needed for it. Now is the time where you use your mind to find the simplest answers for a business niche or you are really thinking outside the box because of the environment you are in the the shortage of cash that you have. I love this blog it is always real.

  31. Kalle,

    Both my husband and I work WAY less when we work for ourselves. Of course it can be time consuming in the start up b/c you are reinventing the wheel at times (switching from dependency to self-sufficiency), but the rewards of integrating your work into your life is invaluable. There is no “job” anymore, just my life.

    I really appreciate such positive responses. It helps to know the whole world isn’t getting caught up in the doom and gloom.

  32. Wow! It feels great to be validated. For years I’ve been telling certain people who complain about their jobs, or lack of jobs, that they need to take control and start their own business. I believe the entrepreneur can still be very successful even in this current economic environment. Finally, it feels good to read something so positive. Thank you!

  33. I see this recession as an “economic selection”, similar to the “natural selection”. Many of the businesses without creating real value are getting selected out, and new ones which provide real value to people are emerging.



    I am all about “The Village” and building a community around what you have to offer as an individual.

    We all have the ability to fill a need for others and this is a good time to do it, just reach out and connect, it can be fun!

  35. Sonia,

    Very motivational. Excellent point about how things are cycling back to the way things “used to be” — with how the individual relates to the group ironically mattering now more than ever as the group goes global.

    I think these changes are great, and though they can be frightening, it offers more opportunities to those who wish to grab them.

  36. @Rajesh, I think that’s a really key point. The harder the times are, the more people need help. The more help people need, the more opportunity we have to create strong businesses that solve problems.

  37. Oh.. That means it will be a tough ride now than a year before as many people will take the same path that we take.
    Thanks for your advice. This means more hard work and more effort is needed to succeed in these times.

  38. What we really need is more support for small businesses from federal and state governments. Starting a business is not easy, especially when trying to compete against huge corporations.

  39. A lot of the things I have been thinking about are just beautifully and simply articulated here, very nice article! I have more optimism than fear about the current situation. The return of the community is welcome and needed. This will become an integral part of the future green economy. We will trim the fat from our lives and get back down to the real meaningful meat of it all. Thanks for a great read.

  40. Love your stuff, Sonia. Business is quieter and payment terms have telescoped, but I’m taking this chance to reinvent parts of myself and my business. It’s exhilarating (i.e. part exciting, part terrifying). Good on you for matching the mood of the times! P. 🙂

  41. The farmer/cave dweller situation reminds me of stories my grandmother always told me. You know… she worked in the fields, raised her own chickens, cows, hogs–and she had to come in from a long day in the field and kill the chicken, pluck it, clean it, and then cook it and prepare the rest of the meal. Yeah, she would have starved if she hadn’t done all that. Geez. That’s a terrible thought, isn’t it? Thanks for the farmer/cave image. 😉

  42. Great article and even better comments. If this was written in the UK we would see all the doom mongers jump on and drip negativity in via comments. Great to see the Americans looking on the positive side as usual– keep it up!

  43. Living in the country I really, really relate to what you’re saying. I’m not saying we aren’t affected by the current economic situation but I do notice that because we are closer to the soil people don’t seem as desperate. My farmer neighbor told me: “We’ll always have something to eat and a roof over our heads here.” The cave man example is a perfect scenario of how we can appreciate everything we have and not get bogged down by doubt or fear. Good ol’ fashioned post. Thanks!

  44. We love your post Sonia and we love the four areas you point out about entrepreneurs. We think we have a product that helps business spirited folks grow with less start up cost for infrastructure and more freedom to be focused on creativity. We’ve got a free beta program in full force right now. We’d love for you and your readers to check us out and give us feedback to tailor our product to your needs so that we can stay in the “Village”.

  45. Sonia –
    I discovered this article via Twitter. And I love it! My husband and I are self-employed and have been for 10 years, and for one thing we’re enjoying the fact that we can’t get fired. But really, I believe that this is an opportunity for creativity and flexibility. It is really the only choice – otherwise all the bad news and fear-mongering will just immobilize us .
    Thanks for putting it all into words so well. I will be back for more of your writing.

  46. Sonia, great post. Especially point #2. We need to change and evolve with the times. People get to hung up in processes and procedures. Let’s get the right-brain thinkers to the front of the room and stop getting stuck in the details!

  47. Dang, Sonia — that was really good. Great points comparing the way things used to be and the way they are. Back in the “cave man” days, those who worked harder had a better chance of survival.

    In the natural selection of capitalism, the same thing is true. Create or die. Great comparison.

  48. Your comments on our products between in our own minds is so true, particularly for those in the US. With so much manufacturing being outsourced many of us most find new ways to create value.

    Great article – I’ve been stopping by CopyBlogger more and more often and have enjoyed the content.

  49. Sonia,
    Right on! It’s amazing how events outside of our control often force us to be more creative. Sometimes the best thing is to get laid off, otherwise we might not know what we are capable of.
    Great insights. I really like the part of taking care of the village. Keeping the village happy prevents an angry mob 🙂

  50. I love #3 “The village is your customer”. Point number three is great because it highlights how transparent we business owners are these days. Even if your business is online behind a computer, you still cant hide, you are still seen on Twitter, Gravatars, blogs and so on. This is still a village – a very large one.

  51. Self reliable, this is exactly what I do as a freelance writer. Yes, worrying about how to pay the bills that are mounting while the wage is reducing. Still, I am surviving. That is what important as a freelance writer.

  52. I just discovered you blog and am glad I did. Especially loved what you wrote about self-reliance. It’s good to periodically get perspective of perspective.

  53. Very inspiring post. Just what I needed after a stretch of gloomy days where people keep stressing on and on about recession and how I shouldn’t quit my current stable job to go for studies, which is precisely what I would love to do. I think I’m just going to follow my heart and leave it at that. Thanks for inspiring me.

  54. Just keep in mind .. it will get better one day .. an till than excel and innovate in everything and do a bit more , greetings from the Netherlands (Europe)

  55. Sigh, I tell you what Sonia, watching the news is a pretty depressing / frustrating thing these days. Its a pet peeve of mine when broadcasters talk about “markets” being down, and unemployment being high as though averages and trends really mean anything to the individual.

    The first point you made about self reliance resonates most strongly with me, being a particular fan of the Emerson piece of the same title, and after conducting a research project at university about whether entrepreneurs are born or made, I would wholeheartedly agree that it is in our DNA.

    Basically the studies I researched showed that entrepreneurialism was a state, not a characteristic. An opportunism and creativity that developed/emerged in response to adverse circumstances.

    With that in mind, I think that there has never been a better time to be forced into self employment. Though the times are rough, the opportunities for success have never been more abundant, and the barriers to entry in our info tech society have never been lower.


  56. Great post!

    My favorite line, “The winners in the new marketplace will sell information, road maps, digital tools, education, and entertainment—often, all contained within one product.”

    I think this also combines with ‘winners help others succeed’!

    Thank you Sonia for the great thoughts – Theresa

  57. Well said, Sonia!

    It’s time that we stepped up a bit and showed our customers, clients, or readers that we care by creating valuable, memorable content or products. Because, if we don’t, there’s nothing stopping our potential customers from finding someone who will.


  58. Great post. I think a combination of your four points is essentially what we need. However, each of these qualities can be very time-consuming in their own right.

  59. Sonia – that is a great post! As an agrarian and a localist, it really spoke to me. If more people would heed this advice, they could more readily change their situation.

    I like that you linked “self-reliance” to Authority. As a recent Authority member, I must give an unsolicited shout-out to the program and say it is fantastic. If you are a copyblogger reader and someone looking to take your online business to the next level, Authority is a great choice. It is possible for you to get free of bondage, but you have to make the choices that will move you in that direction.

  60. Great article Sonia! We have entered the period of evolution on steroids. You have to adapt very quickly or die. Many will die… the fittest will survive.

  61. Sonia, I saw comments from March, so this post is not new. Let me tell you, you need to keep posting this masterpiece.
    I’m excited to find someone that speak my language. I use this metaphor during my training, I am amazed… Thank you!

  62. Great post, Sonia… and timely for me as I’ve been researching the freelance movement lately. I love how you put things in the larger context of our history and evolution…. I found point 3 about the village baker particularly insightful. Thanks!

  63. Love the DNA bit. I always lean into the fact that I come from entrepreneurial parents and grandparents so this is probably why I can’t help myself. Great mantra to repeat ~ it’s in my DNA and now it’s time to hustle!

  64. Sometimes I feel like a crazy person among my friends and family. Like the guy with the ‘end is near’ sign shouting, “Find a way to earn a living online! There’s plenty of room for everyone!”

    This post made me feel like they’re the crazy ones shouting, “We enjoy finding security in a dying system!”

    Thank you.

  65. Great ideas are a dime a dozen, the adage goes.. and I salute those who have taken lots of risks to execute their vision into reality. Thanks Sonia for sharing these awesome insights – something to think about in times when bootstrapping is trending.

  66. This colossal industrialism can’t last forever – the Earth simply can’t cope, what with global warming, overpopulation, and numerous other issues. I wouldn’t mind a return to the small village businesses of the past – an idyllic time with much less stress. Still, for now we all have to gawp at Apple and co. doing their thang.

  67. Two phrases I hear so often are How much time left do I have to retire and Thank God It’s Friday. I cant wait for the day when those phrases are obsolete.

  68. We are so lucky to live in an exciting time, where a new style of business is emerging.

    The innovators of the near future will not be basement inventors but community builders. Success more and more means being able to bring together great minds and harness their collective problem solving ability.

    To me, this new reality is good not only for the individuals – who get to leave the strangling corporate cubicle for the freedom of entrepreneurship – but also for society. It means the chance to get over the rampant estrangement of our time.

    It’s a long road ahead still, but in my opinion the change is inevitable.

    Thanks for helping lead the way Sonia!


  69. Funny I was just talking about this to my membership a few days ago. Your historical path outlines a circle actually, because the death of self reliance suddenly meant we had something we never had before: free time. We didn’t have to work sun up to sun down anymore just to survive so we began to look for things to do with this free time. The birth of middle class began and passion and interest began to grow. Now so many live double lives where they work all day then do what they really want in the evening or weekends. This exploration of passion is what fuels the entrepreneurial spirit and makes us want to take whatever that passion is to a full time pursuit. So it took us a couple hundred years to get there but maybe we can finally start to have fun.

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