Our media is awash with entrepreneurial slang – you should be a ‘boss bitch’ or ‘be your own boss’, avoid being a ‘wage slave’ or a ‘sheep’ – permeated by overly generalised, cliché mantras like ‘never give up’, ‘it’s about the journey not the destination’ – so on and so forth.
Some Issues With This:
- ‘Wage Slave’ and other such terms only serve to denigrate the very people that are supporting your business / new venture / startup / the economy in which you partake. It takes a team to make it to the top, not just one person. A friend of mine once stated that anyone who claims to be ‘self-made’, hasn’t fully appreciated the role of others who have helped them.
- Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and there are pros and cons to everything. Therefore I’m not for the agenda of portraying a certain lifestyle to be better by default. It depends on you as a person, your circumstances, the environment and a lot of chance and luck, combined with your passions.
- I hate the ‘one size fits all’ approach in any aspect of life. Devoutly following overly simplistic statements like ‘never give up’ never bodes well. Knowing when to quit is arguably just as important as the tenacity not to give up when the going gets tough. Using your noggin to critically decide what decision to make depending on the scenario, outweighs some blanket propaganda statement.
- It’s boring. Everyone repeating the same mantras over and over like some brainwashed cult. I went to a Tech conference / Hackathon in Beirut in 2016 and it was as though everyone had the same interests, the same idols, same backgrounds, which is fine if not expected overall but to even have the same jargon leaving your lips is a bit much perhaps. This tends to happen in most industries. It’s like one big super-organism instead of a diverse array of individuals. Don’t become institutionalised.
- Never underestimate the role of luck. Even if you’re a big boy at the top – don’t let your ego allow you to think that you’re a deity for banking bucks . In many instances, you were born in a specific country, to a certain family, with a set of opportunities – all by chance. Who you are as a person, is one small part of the equation – who do you know, what have you got, where have you got it, what’s going to happen – you can’t have control over everything. Read this study by MIT if you feel you need solid evidence for taking your ego down a notch. I have many people that I hugely admire in the entrepreneurial space, all of whom maintain an element of modesty in the face of their impressive achievements and failures.
- ‘Just quit your job and follow your dreams’ because it’s as easy as that if you want it bad enough, isn’t it? Actually I find such advice irresponsible and it makes people feel guilty for their circumstances, as it blames them for not having the ‘courage’ to alter them. The man in his 40s with a family to feed may have given up his own dreams because he prioritised their security, over taking a risk in the hope for more. Such people deserve to be celebrated not shamed. Yes it is inspiring when you hear about the person that almost became homeless in their quest for glory but what about all the others that didn’t quite make it? Being realistic and finding ways to minimise risk or making sacrifices instead of being gung ho, is not a bad thing.
- The term ‘entrepreneur’ is over-glorified. You can literally become an Instagram rep or an affiliate for some scammy herbal supplement brand (pyramid scheme) and start calling yourself ‘your own boss’ / a ‘visionary’ / an ‘entrepreneur’ / a ‘hustler’. Half the time, entrepreneurs are not their own bosses by any means – if you’re backed by venture capital, VC are your boss. If you’re not, market forces are your boss.
I have no doubt this communicative confusion stems partly from the governmental push to get more people into entrepreneurship, owing to the miserable job economy. It has worked. In spite of the dreary statistics for success of new businesses (or lack of), the number of UK startups has risen to record levels in recent years.
I chose to try something entrepreneurial as part of a portfolio career because there are of course positives when you have a project you really want to work on. Above all I really enjoy the process but these are a few of the minor things along the way which I felt worthy of some thought, seeing as they are so rife and unchallenged amongst the community.