If the number of jobs created does not equal or exceed the number of jobs being made obsolete, the unemployment rate will increase. There is a tendency for our individuality and self-gratification to blindfold us regarding employment and hence the unemployment rate. By this, I mean there is a tendency for us to do the things that will increase the unemployment rate because it is the easier thing to do. But when jobs are made obsolete at a fast rate, and there are very few job creations, sooner than later, we will all be affected, whether directly or indirectly. Therefore, it is important that the consciousness we promote at Think Big Coaching Academy be extended to business and job preservation.

Job preservation, as used in this article, refers to a strategy collectively and consciously adopted, to guarantee a paid position (via regular employment and business ownership) that will allow a community to supply their basic needs. 

Most small business owners go into business with the expectation to make a profit. From a small business owners’ perspective, there are three major factors that must always be analyzed to guarantee this profit. These factors are cost-effectiveness, the possibility of a product or service becoming obsolete, and customer satisfaction.

But these very factors, depending on how they are addressed, may cause an increase in unemployment rate. Let us look at some examples. To be truly cost effective, it is considered prudent for small businesses to choose large discount suppliers like BJ Services, Amazon, or Wal-Mart over and above small businesses that cannot offer such large discounts. The present trend is to make full use of artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce customer waiting time, eliminate or reduce the cost of employment, and reduce errors and weaknesses in the system due to the human element. When the consumers no longer need a product or service, employees must be sent home.

When a small business owner chooses a large discount supplier instead of another small business, they are doing a disservice to the very fraternity of which they are a part. Choosing to buy from another small business means you have made the conscious decision to keep that business open. It creates a network of small businesses that finds strength in interdependence.

When the consumer values a large discount supplier over a small business, they are directly participating in the demise of the small business within their community. This may be the small business that employs their son, daughter, neighbour, or parents. The interesting twist is that even the small business employee may opt to buy from the large discount suppliers instead of supporting the small business to which they are employed. So, technically speaking, an employee may be contributing to the death of the very company that creates a job for them.

And do not be fooled; large discount suppliers are not thinking of employing more human workforce. When we have eradicated all small businesses, there is no refuge in large discount suppliers and big tech. These companies are highly interested in using AI to get tasks done faster. And they do take into consideration that AI does not need lunchtime, sick days, or vacations. It therefore means that the payroll can be significantly reduced.

According to many individuals who have written articles regarding artificial intelligence and the workforce, AI offers no threat to the workforce. There is no need for fear because the primary purpose of AI is not to replace human labor, but to facilitate and reduce the time taken to accomplish daily tasks so that people can focus on more important ones. But what are the more important tasks that need to be focused on? Do we not find artificial intelligence focusing on those tasks as well? And is it possible or, is there enough space for everyone to focus on the few jobs that AI has not yet invaded?

Some ‘experts’ on the topic regarding artificial intelligence in the workforce believe that, despite the loss of some kind of jobs, there is a balance created with gains in new job opportunities related to important technology positions, such as robotics, programming, and communication between machines. But are we all technologically inclined? And is there space in technology for all of us?

Bear in mind that, presently, there are artificial intelligence systems that greatly affect high-skilled and high-tech jobs. A study done by Brookings reveals that, directly or indirectly, artificial intelligence will influence more than 95 percent of jobs. Will there be jobs for all of us if AI continues to be rolled out unabated?

We must agree that AI does not affect only large businesses. They have improved cost-effectiveness in small businesses as well; they have improved the customer experience. Consumers can shop from the comfort of their home, and price matching is oh so easy. But all this comes at a cost. And the impact will be affecting both small businesses and the consumer. The consumer will eventually be affected because the consumer makes up the workforce. It is the consumer that will be losing their jobs. And when the consumer loses their jobs, they no longer bear the title of consumer in some regards because they no longer will be able to consume.

The key point to take with you from this article is this. The rate of job erosion that we are experiencing far outweighs the creation of jobs. This reflects an increase in unemployment rate. As the unemployment rate increases, consumer buying power reduces. And as consumer buying power reduces, consumers seek more discounts from large suppliers. It means that every small business who does not consciously balance factors (such as AI), that reduce the number of individuals they can employ, will be affected. When, as a small business owner, you choose to employ AI over human, you are adding to the unemployment rate and reducing the buying power of someone. This action of yours will come back to hurt you directly or indirectly.

But there is one more important action that must be taken into consideration. Small businesses must come together and play their part in enlightening communities regarding the importance of small businesses. Owners of small businesses need to create forums to enlighten the consumer to the fact that they not only bear the title consumer; they are also the workforce. And it is their responsibility, as the workforce, to create their job and preserve their job by taking conscious actions that will guarantee their job.  Consumers need to understand that they are first members of a workforce before they can proudly wear the hat of an independent consumer. Consumers also need to understand that their self-esteem, harmonious home, and health depend on them being financial earners, whether as business owners or employees.

It is time we all wake up to the fact that it is we, the people, against the large discount suppliers and big tech. If we do not make the conscious decision to stand together, creating a strong network of interdependent small businesses that have transformed their community into a group of individuals who are committed to the preservation of small businesses, we are going down together. The only refuge we have is ourselves.

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