Beginning in 1862, the various Homestead Acts provided Americans with new opportunities to own, settle, farm, cultivate and populate what was then a wide open, unclaimed American frontier (Native American interests notwithstanding, of course). The young country was looking for ways to grow and spread. There was (literally) a lot of room out there and a lot of opportunity (and risk) for self-starters, dreamers and businesspeople to carve out new lives, new opportunities, new satisfactions and new ways to make money.
The Internet, the online world, the networked globe we now live in, is also wide open and fairly unclaimed. Even though the number of websites, apps, solutions and platforms has grown exponentially over the years, the Internet is still in its nascent stage, with plenty of room . . . for you, me and all of those little morsels of ideas we may be toying with.
This Homestead analogy comes from Dan Abrams, TV correspondent, legal commentator and online entrepreneur. I like how he put it in a recent New York Times article:
“I like the feeling that I’m on the right side of history. I think the Internet is comparable to the Homestead Act: Here’s a parcel of land, sign up, cultivate it, it’s yours. There’s all this land out there right now. You can be a major player. I’ve got less than 20 people working on all my sites.” He’s starting three new sites and expects to be profitable in February. “I’m funding this,” he said. “I have a little bit of money from my family, but this is mostly me.”
If you’re an unhappy, frustrated, or just unsatisfied attorney, what will you tell your kids (and your grandkids and your great-grandkids) years from now about what you did in 2011? Did you carve out that parcel of the Internet for yourself and your future generations? Did you create that website, that new legal practice, that consulting venture, that new business? Did you harvest a future that, while it may have taken a while to nurture and grow, that may have taken a lot of time to develop, that may have gone through numerous iterations and versions, nonetheless ultimately created a lucrative and satisfying personal and professional lifestyle?
Or will you tell your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids that you just kept on being an unhappy lawyer?