Out of Work? Check the Mirror

By Beacon Staff

A long time ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop talking to a guy from Jackson Hole about our family’s dream to move to the mountains. At the time, I had a great paying job and was negotiating to take it to the mountains with me (that later fell through).

He gave me some advice that has stuck with me since that time some 14 years ago. He said: “If you’re coming to live in the mountains, you better bring your own job and your own woman, cuz we don’t have enough of either one”.

Which brings me to what’s going on here. Lots of people out of work.

Many of you have what teenagers would call “mad (whatever) skills”. In normal English, that means “valuable skills in (whatever you do)”.

So now what?

First question: What’s inside your head? More specifically, what’s in there that we can sell? What’s in there that other people really want?

Another way to look at it: What are the topics that provoke people to call you for advice?

So let’s assume that maybe your topic is welding.

Before I go any further, we need to get something out of the way. Go ahead and say this to yourself now, and then stuff it away somewhere: “That’ll never work.”

I promise it’ll never work if you don’t try it. OK, got that out of your system? Good.

Tell me… what can we do to take advantage of your mad welding skills? A few thoughts: art, gates, teaching, repairs – but not general stuff, we’re talking specialty skills.

One of these things might not be enough, but none of these are laid out to be a full-time gig, so tinker around and see what works for you. Maybe more than one till you figure out what really works for you.

I don’t care if you think you aren’t artistic. Someone else can help with the design – think there are any artists or designers who’d like some work? Sure there are.

If someone walks up and hands you $500 (or $5000) for a couple hours of work and what started out as $100 worth of square tube steel, I’m guessing you’ll find a way to like it at least for the short term. Remember, people come to town and just want to take something Montana-ish home. Those same people have an internet connection. Hmmm.

Gates and the like

Security doors, big fancy gates and what not. Again, you may need to find an artist or designer, and there may not be a local market, but if you really are as good as you say you are… it’s worth investigating. There seem to be a fair number of folks in this business, which ought to tell you something.

Pick something unique, don’t be just another guy who welds gates. Specialize.


There isn’t a red-blooded dude around (OK, maybe there are, but bear with me) who haven’t “always wanted to learn to weld”. It doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to have a big fancy classroom.

Have each person rent a welder (tell them *exactly* what to get) and the rest of the gear they need.

Lay out a series of 10 or so course sessions and decide exactly what will be taught in each one. Keep the classes small so you can provide personalize attention. If you accept only 10 people, even at $25 a session, that’s a decent pile of cash for a couple hours per session.

Remember, these aren’t “learn to be a world class Navy underwater welder” courses, these are teach dudes like Mark how to weld basic stuff at home because they’ve always wanted to.

Maybe it’ll lead to something. Video. YouTube. DVDs. You and the market get to decide.


Repairs could be mundane drive-around-and-weld-stuff kinds of things, but anyone with a truck and a welder might be doing that. What can you repair that normally makes someone fly in an expert from out of town?

Think a little – what can you fix that it seems like no one else can?

So there are a few ideas. More important than the specific ideas is the thought process of figuring it out so it works for you.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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