The new American Dream consistently exhibits a free, unique, and imaginative mental capacity. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, 1836
The history of the US is deeply entwined with entrepreneurship. Bright minds and daring risk-takers have never been short of business prospects since the first Europeans began trading with the native people and up to the westward expansion that followed the construction of the railway. The idea of building one’s own fortune has been deeply ingrained in the nation’s mentality as a result of the entrepreneurs’ successes and captivating rags-to-riches tales. Businesses that understand the value of this entrepreneurial spirit will be able to quickly change with the times.
Small business owners occupied a central position in every American town up to the latter half of the 19th century. They built the houses, produced the shoes, baked the bread, and offered whatever other goods or services their clients need.
They had connections with their clients, and occasionally even friendships. The Industrial Revolution’s processes and values emerged and spread, and as factories were erected and goods got more complicated, the gap between those who produced them and those who purchased them grew.
Following World War II, the disparity widened much more. Long-term employment and the 9–5 workday were linked to the American Dream by corporations and the businesses that catered to them.
To commute to the company offices, employees left the towns where they lived. Along with being cut off from the client, assembly line workers frequently had no connection to the final items to which they contributed. For a few decades, entrepreneurship earned a negative reputation due to its high risk, unpredictability, and a number of failures.
After the technology industry resurrected entrepreneurship for more than a select few and restored its respectability in the second part of the 20th century, things started to shift. Workers have been designing their own career pathways within corporations and in their own initiatives as consecutive generations got more entrepreneur-friendly. The days of working a 9 to 5 job for the same employer for 30 years and receiving a pension at the end are long gone.
The Great New American Dream
Self-employment is on the rise in the 21st century when the first generation born in the digital age is entering labor. Despite the fact that the pandemic undoubtedly helped things move faster, the pattern existed long before COVID.
Businesses were compelled to offer resources for remote work during the lockout. As people discovered they could break free from commutes, workplaces, and in many cases, full-time employment altogether, the Great Realisation came to pass. Over the past three years, the number of full-time independent professionals—or entrepreneurs—in the US has increased dramatically, rising from 38.2 million in 2020 to 64.6 million in 2021. And it’s anticipated that the number will keep rising.
The Great Realisation goes beyond one’s place of employment or hours of operation. As people become more in tune with the workstyles and lifestyles that speak to them, it has helped to create a new American Dream. More important than obtaining the corner office and assigned parking space is living life to the fullest.
In reality, all workers’ top priorities include making the most of their lives, as well as spending enough time with their families, and leading fulfilling lives. Compared to the US workforce as a whole, a higher percentage of US independent workers report accomplishing these life goals. As these employees decide to fully control their careers and work patterns, the entrepreneurial spirit is being revived.
They prefer working alone, deciding where to work when to work, and what they work on. Direct-to-customer transactions, which were common before the Industrial Age, are being revived. They are pleased to observe the quick and close consequences of their labor now that their job is no longer separated from the buyer.
One could argue that the pandemic reawakened the de Tocqueville-lauded business spirit. More than half of workers globally would contemplate leaving their jobs if they were not given some flexibility in where and when they worked, despite claims made by some business media outlets that companies force workers to return to the office.
Companies have responded by maintaining remote work as an operational component, and many are putting in place digital nomad policies that permit workers to work while on the go.
Even more significant, forward-thinking businesses are building optimized workforces with predetermined ratios of full- and contract-time employees. Strategic positions that were long thought to be exclusive to employees are now being filled by independent workers. Additionally, they provide employers with skill sets and experience that would not otherwise be available.
It’s time for businesses to take note of the New American Dream, which is currently prevailing in the workforce and characterized by a reawakened entrepreneurial spirit. Your talent policies and programs should be flexible.
Don’t assume that all core workers are employees. Strategically consider how employees and independent contractors might work together to achieve company objectives. Recognize the significance of life goals for your entire workforce. You will be put on the road to success in the new workplace by these stepping stones.