No matter who says it can’t be done, there are a LOT of small business owners who “DID build that” – all over the world. The DIY, self-made/home-made way of doing things might not be as visible as it was fifty years ago, but it’s alive and well. Lots of people make things and repair things with their own hands.
The questions is: why? If anyone can go to Wal-Mart and buy a plastic lawn chair, why on earth would anyone need to build a wooden Adirondack by hand? Well, there are a few reasons. And in this post I’m especially speaking to two groups of readers: the under/unemployed and the consumers who are their neighbors and friends.
I think being a creator – a person who makes things – is essential. It’s especially vital for people who suddenly have a lot of “free time” or were unwillingly given an unpaid vacation. When you get laid off (or just can’t find a good job) there’s a good chance you’ll do what the average under/unemployed person does with that extra time: nothing.
Don’t be like that. Here’s why you need to start creating stuff:
1. It will make you feel important. If you’ve ever made something with your bare hands – or fixed something in your garage – you know the feeling. It’s the feeling of accomplishment and achievement that only comes by self-directing “doing”. When you make homemade soap, or write a book, or harvest vegetables out of your backyard garden, or restore an old bicycle you found in the garbage…well, you can’t help but feel proud of what you did. Do unemployed people need to feel like that on a regular basis? Obviously. And that feeling doesn’t come from just watching TV all day and looking at the internet.
2. It will contribute to others. Most people would rather have a hand-made item or a quality crafted good than to have something made cheaply (that will break easily) from a dollar store. (That doesn’t go for every commodity item out there, but in many cases that’s the truth.) It’s nice to use quality handmade soap. Locally-produced honey or jam is often better (in taste as well as in ingredients!) than commercial stuff. And I already mentioned the Adirondack chair: the plastic stuff just has no character, and is made to be disposable. When you (as a creator) make an item and either sell it or barter it, the recipient benefits. They get something that has meaning instead of a mass-produced item. They can say they bought a local good from a person they know. That’s cool!
3. It will help support you. Last, you can get something tangible in return. Bartering is a valid and legal way to help support yourself – it’s been the way things have been done for most of history. When you make something and sell it for more money than the raw materials cost you, that’s called profit. Do that a whole lot of times and you might see a big profit. Do it less times, and you might just supplement your income. Either way, creating things can put food on the table and either pay the bills or alleviate some bills. “Creating” is an activity that pays better than TV-watching, no matter how you look at it.
So just because you’re being told to not create (“you didn’t build that!”) doesn’t mean you have to sit around and do nothing. All of us have nothing but opportunities: chances to learn new skills, hone existing skills, and become better individuals. Take advantage of your time and opportunities. Make something this week.