One of my friends was recently sharing some of his frustrations about the economy. 

One of my friends was recently sharing some of his frustrations about the economy.

A year and a half away from getting a bachelor’s degree, he’s stalled out. It isn’t lack of interest or financing that has dampened his spirits, although college is getting more and more difficult to afford; rather, he’s not so sure the degree is going to help him get a job.

I couldn’t say much to reassure him. I know of several people with bachelor’s and even master’s degrees who have spent more than two years looking for a job after they were laid off. The field of work doesn’t seem to matter; construction, manufacturing, professional services--opportunities aren’t nearly as plentiful as they used to be.

It’s easy to become cynical, especially if you’ve been in a certain field for awhile. I can empathize with the surveyor who e-mailed me recently following my September 15th POB eNews editorial on how differentiating your business style can improve success. “I have been surveying since 1959, when I first helped stake a house, and the primary concern of any survey has not changed: Price. How many Yankee dollars does it cost? Long live capitalism!” Indeed. If price is the only factor in the decision-making process, what hope is there for any surveying professional? What hope is there for any professional? And what’s the point of trying a new marketing tactic, learning a new skill or furthering our education if it won’t help us earn a living?

Fortunately, it’s not that clear-cut. Yes, our society has long placed a heavy emphasis on price. As a result, some markets have become automated, others have been driven offshore, and still more will disappear in the near future. The cycle seems to be unrelenting. But as I recently browsed an article in an unrelated magazine about a successful business owner, a quote caught my eye: “A successful entrepreneur looks for a problem and then figures out how to provide a solution.”

That’s why entrepreneurs such as Jon Landerville and Ed Fatzinger, the founders of Momentum Engineering Corp., have been successful. They identified a niche where their services were needed--forensic surveying--and then focused on that market. (See the story  here.) On a much larger scale, that attitude has helped Parametrix, this year’s Geomatics Innovation Award winner, to become a leader in its field. When the Washington State Department of Transportation needed a firm to survey a floating superstructure, Parametrix was positioned to fill that requirement with an innovative approach. (See the story here.)

Problems still abound. Identify them, apply your expertise to finding a solution, and you just might find new opportunities at your doorstep.

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