To wake up to the fact that we now live in the information age, where you can create 'information-products' that have value (MP3s, electronic books, documents, reports, password-protected web pages, newsletter, etc) and sell an unlimited number of copies of them. It costs some time and money to produce the product, but the cost of producing each extra copy is zero. This is different to a printing-press, where each copy has a cost.
Some people sell downloadable products like eBooks from a website and accept payment by paypal or credit card. A simple one page, one product site can make money 24 hours a day if you advertise it hard enough via google adwords and things. You can create the product yourself or license it from another author/artist/musician/video-game writer/programmer.
We've gone beyond agriculture, industrial production and offline service industries. We are now in the information age. As well as information-products, there are information-services to sell, such as market-research reports.
Its just completing the 2 x 2 = 4 permutations of online/offline and goods/services.
Skills you need include, searching skills, such as the syntax of google advanced search and how to pick search terms that are likely to occur in the pages you're looking for but not appear in irrelevant junk.
Knowledge of a handful of important information sources, such as wikipedia and the external links on its pages, where you can start your research on any topic.
Knowledge of where to get help. In the days before the internet, you were limited to asking people you know and the university/school staff. Now you have thousands of people on here, who can answer your questions or steer you towards the info you need. It really speeds things up for someone to give you a quick overview of what you need to know. You get info in minutes that would have taken days from reading books.
It pays to read a basic book on how the economy and stockmarket works in a capitalist country. Its all about getting the maximum amount of profit each year from every dollar tied up in the business (the Return On Capital Employed - ROCE). If you only get 5?you might as well put your money on deposit. If you can make 15?then your money doubles every 5 years.
Read up on how Warren Buffett, the world' second richest man (behind No. 1 Bill Gates) and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, does this. See the link to The Buffettology Workbook. He divides businesses into unprofitable 'commodity businesses' selling the same goods and services as everyone else with wafer-thin profits, and 'fortress businesses', such as coca-cola or gillette razor blades, which have a product that commands a high-price and profit due to a strong brand, worldwide advertising, customer loyalty. Other fortress businesses include those with products protected from competition by patents, copyright and trademarks, and with high barriers to entry (such as start-up costs), such as drug-companies, movie companies, mega-insurance companies, etc.
Its far better to start one of these high-profit rapid-growth fortress businesses than a low-profit commodity business or to enjoy the better job security of working for one.
Harley Davidson motorbikes is another fortress business. How many companies do you know with such a loyal customer base, where they have the company name tattoed on their arms. If you start a business, think how you can achieve that level of loyalty. You'de need some seriously cool product or service. Its also an example of the psychology of business; how people will spend far more money on things they love than everyday necessities. Think of the amount women spend on shoes and hand-bags.
You also need a basic grounding in how to run a business, maximise profits, do advertising online and offline, etc. A book on starting up and running an eBay-based business is a good start, as its not just theory, you might actual go ahead and do it.
Even if you decide to work as an employee, for the security, fixed working hours and guaranteed leisure hours, it helps to know what your employers goals and methods are and what they look for in an employee. They want someone who can take the load off of them, expand the amount of business they do and increase profits.
Something I know from bitter experience that you need to consider is 'If I enter this career because I love doing technical things, am I going to wind up promoted into a management or supervisory job that I don't want?'. Does it suit your personality (introvert or people-person) or can you learn to change? Check out how your chosen career is likely to go with people that are already in that line of business'. You can ask on here.
Whether or not you intend to go into management eventually, it would pay to learn the basic of Project Management. You might become a manager or development team-leader eventually and in your first position, it helps to know what your supervisor is doing. You could start on wikipedia, explore sub-topics, search for articles, read a book or two and ask questions on here.
Throughout your career, wikipedia and yahoo answers is great for geating up to speed on a topic and achieving things quickly.
Its worth learning what software you are likely to be using in your career, read up on it and get some practice. There are cheaper student versions of Microsoft Office and other products.
Throughout your career, you need to learn how to manage information. Put together your own information storage and management system (favourites list, files full of contacts, archive of things you've done, plan for information you'll need for the year ahead, sources of product/component information, etc). Keep good records. Keep your CV/resume up to date and don't lose information that a new employer will want when you change jobs. Think what (non company-owned) information you need to take from company to company.
Ask on here how to maximize your income by switching companies, getting a pay rise each time. How often is too often?
Check out where the jobs are and where you might need to move to if you reach a more senior position. Are you flexible on what part of the country you will work in or do you want to stay close to parents, siblings and friends? Will you want to work overseas or be required to work overseas? Would learning a foreign-language now help your career? The wishes of, and personal happiness of, you, your wife and kids shouldn't take 2nd place to a career.
Answered By: Richard F - 11/19/2006