We’ll talk about employed vs self-employed in a second, but first let’s talk about feminism. I’m a feminist because I believe in equality between men and women in all walks of life including wages and respect. I’m not a man hater. That’s really important, because ultimately it’s all about equality and feminism is not a dirty word. Women are great, men are great.
I’m highlighting this because feminism, the pursuit of increasing the power and profile of women, often goes beyond the quest for equality and into the realms of superiority. This is a dangerous thing for all genuine feminists or ‘equalists’ because it gives feminism a bad name, reduced respect and even a warped definition in most people’s minds. Most people have a negative view of that ‘raging feminist’ right?
I’m not bringing this up completely out of context. In fact, I feel there is quite a lot of similarities in the world of the self-employed and the entrepreneur. I’ve had a lot to do with the enterprise-promotion scene including Start-up Loans, Clever Tykes, the Female Entrepreneurs of Birmingham group and mentoring a number of aspiring entrepreneurs. It is incredibly important that we promote entrepreneurship as a great career option but we must be careful to do this without putting employment down.
We must champion entrepreneurship in its own right; not at the expense or ridicule of the employed. There have been a few things recently that have made question the message that some of those championing entrepreneurship send out.
Let’s start with this quote from Doug Richard, which I saw featured on the back of the BQ Magazine’s Emerging Entrepreneur Dinner:
“Why start a business? Given the choice I’d rather be a failure on my own terms than a success working for someone else.”
This may well be Doug’s honest opinion but that sentence doesn’t sit well with me. Yes being a business owner is great, but who is that quotation going to appeal to? If it’s targeted at an entrepreneur then they’re already on his side, but I’m not sure I’d take kindly to that if I was employed and being really successful. I might even feel negatively towards Doug and entrepreneurs in general, if he is regarded as a spokesperson. Perhaps I wouldn’t want to work for someone who felt they were superior to me.
It’s not just Doug, google some of the well known entrepreneurship champions and you’ll read many similar examples.
What is really important is that we have a mix of self-employed AND employed people. Yes we need more entrepreneurs, we know that. We know that we, as a country, aren’t producing enough, which is why we have schemes like Start Up Loans, etc, but the way to create a good feeling about entrepreneurs isn’t by running down people who have jobs. Remember, the world wouldn’t work if we were all self employed – we need people to want to work for entrepreneurs.
Having a job doesn’t mean that you go to work miserable every day, hate Mondays and look forward to the weekend because you can’t stand your boss whose pockets you are filling from working so hard. Dolly Parton’s ‘9-5’ doesn’t describe the situation of every person in a job. There are lots of people who are fulfilled and engaged in their role, who respect and look up to their boss, who enjoy working with their team and are quite happy with their situation. I don’t think that self-employed people trying to convince people that it’s brilliant by putting down those in jobs is the way forward, and it’s just going to end up with an ‘us vs them’ situation. In reality, everyone works together. Out of all the people I see each week I’d say half are self-employed and half are employed. All of them have different challenges and ways of working them out.
Let’s quit the bashing and get on with business.