The early days of the Internet were a great time for those who had hopes of living the American Dream. In fact, the Internet made the world feel a lot smaller, and the American Dream became the dream of people from all over the world. Sadly, the dreamy period was short lived. First, the DotCom bubble burst, and then, just a few years later, the USA entered a long and serious recession. Around the same time as the US recession, Europe hit trouble too, and life became hard for everyone – office workers, home owners, small business owners, and investors alike.

Be Your Own Boss

Before 2011, the American Dream was alive and well, with start-ups springing up all over the place. Terms such as IPO, web fulfillment, and venture capital weren’t bandied about with the frequency that they appeared during the DotCom boom, but they were part of most people’s vocabulary.

Middle aged people who had taken a break to raise children didn’t just look to jump back into their careers; they considered starting their own business instead. Young people with free time and good ideas would test the waters with web based businesses while looking for full time jobs. If the business failed, at least they’d have something to put on their portfolio.

Sadly, last year saw an end to that culture of ambition and dreams. Career breaks aren’t an option at the moment, as people are reluctant to leave their jobs even briefly – who knows if there’ll be any jobs to come back to? Older workers who thought they were taking a little time off are now facing the prospect of being forcibly retired, and recent graduates are now in a position where they must take anything they can find, even call center work or a job flipping burgers, because there’s simply no other way to pay off student debt.

Keep Dreaming, Just Smaller

However, there is hope for the next generation. Those who are fortunate enough to not have large outstanding debts may find that their low outgoings are a huge advantage. They are in a position to be flexible, try new things, and take the initiative; something that people who are slave to their credit card debt cannot do.

Starting an online business doesn’t have to be expensive. Business hosting accounts don’t cost a lot, and modern CMS software and web fulfillment packages are easy enough for even people without a technical background to use. A good idea, some initiative, and an investment of time (something every unemployed person has) is all that you need to test out a business plan. If it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t, all you have lost is the cost of the hosting and the domain.

Few successful businessmen achieved great results with their first idea. It’s normal to have to go through several iterations before you succeed, but the lessons you learn from your failures can be applied to future plans, until you find one that works. The best thing about the internet is that once you have one technical and web fulfillment setup working, it’s easy to apply it to other ideas, and that speeds the process up significantly.

The most important lesson from 2011 is that you should never stop dreaming, and never stop trying.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Hallmark Consumer Services who provide outsourced web fulfillment to businesses of all sizes. James writes about business and the internet.

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