Stop Glorifying Entrepreneurs and Shaming Employees

If you listened to everything you read online you’d be of the impression that working life is horrific, employees are mindless drones and self-employed people are having the times of their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth.

By putting these self-employed entrepreneurs on a pedestal and letting them champion their successes at every possible turn we’ve created a real problem. Time and time again we’re teaching people that becoming an entrepreneur will solve all of your problems with time, health, wealth, family and personal freedom.

We’re living in a bubble and it needs to stop.

Most of these articles tend to take the focus of entrepreneurs praising their type of lifestyle and shunning the idea that any possible 9–5 job could compare.

And sure perhaps in their current situation they personally wouldn't want a traditional job, that’s fine. But please don’t paint all of us with the same brush. Some of us actually enjoy working for others and have no aspirations of working for ourselves. That doesn't mean we’re lazy, don’t like going outside of our comfort zone, have no drive or any of the other reasons people cook up to put workers down.

Besides, let’s not pretend that being self-employed is a bastion of good times that carries no risks. 90% of start-ups fail. NINETY PERCENT. If you have any success at all you’re in a tiny minority.

I’m sure the entrepreneurs who have failed, had to lay off staff, lost their homes and strained or even ruined relationships with their families would attest to the fact that actually not every new venture goes smoothly. Oh and remember they’re in the majority.

Neither being employed or self-employed is any guarantee of a fulfilling, satisfying and financially rewarding working relationship. So why do we treat one like it’s far better than the other?

After all, one of the big stalwarts of going self-employed is you get to be your own boss. Nope. You have a boss just like everyone else and that’s your clients. Whether it’s your manager or your client, we all have a boss and they’re the people who write the cheques. You’ll always be answering to someone if you want to get paid.

Ah but, you’ll get paid more if you work for yourself right? After all how often are we told you “can’t get rich working for someone else”? What utter nonsense.

There are hundreds of thousands of managers, directors and CEO’s out there who are incredibly wealthy and I’m not just talking about some impossible to reach 1%ers either. There are countless careers paths that can take you beyond £100,000 salaries if you pursue them long enough.

Plus with flexible working and working from home growing in popularity being an employee doesn't have to mean being chained to a desk every day either. There have never been more flexible options for employees to make work fit around their lifestyles.

“What about the 40 hour work week?” I hear you cry. “Entrepreneurs get more free time”. Also nonsense. Name me one entrepreneur who works less than a 40 hour work week with a good salary and I’ll name you 10 more that have 60–80 hour workloads that put them up to their eyeballs in work.

None of this is meant to devalue the great contribution entrepreneurs make to our economy, in driving competition and even disrupting so many industries. I’m all for entrepreneurial spirit as much as the next guy, all I’m asking is that we stop the toxic dialogue that working life is hell unless you work for yourself.

There are many employees out there who have entrepreneurial spirit and use it every single day. We’ll call them intrapreneurs. They use their drive to create new things, champion others and win the allies needed to make positive change in their organisations. They are game changes in their own way and they do all of this without the slightest desire to work for themselves.

If your jobs sucks and you are just a cog who punches in at 9 and does all they can to watch the clock until 5 then sure, you could be doing more but that doesn’t mean self-employment is the only answer. Being entrepreneurial is the key here, whether that’s inside of an organisation or not it doesn’t matter.

So rather than praising everyone who goes self-employed we should be putting just as much effort on those who take that entrepreneurial spirit and rip up the playbook within their organisations. They deserve just as much praise and right now they have the smallest voices of all.

We need a more realistic picture of the positives of working for someone else and the negatives of being self-employed because right now we’re skewed so far the other way that any kid looking at their first job is just going to assume it’s going to suck.

And do we really want to teach self employed people that unless they’re making £100k a month and working a 10 hour work week they’ve failed? Of course not. This type of content is just as damaging for them as well.

Self-employed or employed, if you’re cashing a cheque every week, progressing in your careers and getting results with your work then you’re doing fine. Don’t let anyone else tell you your career path is wrong and theirs is better. Carve out your own path in or outside an organisation and be sure to write about it so we can a truer picture of what work’s really like.

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