Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Make A Job, Don't Take A Job: The Essence Of Enterprise

The world of work and business has changed radically. I’m writing this in a bar in Spitalfields East London which I have commandeered as my office for the morning. There’s loud music playing and I’m taking advantage of the wifi, running my business sprawled on a sofa. To those not familiar with this style of working, I may look like I’m at play. But I’m working; and this is how thousands of people work today. We have created our own micro businesses, monetising our talents, working for ourselves, running businesses our way.

This is Global Entrepreneurship Week, and when I think of business and enterprise, I don’t think about the office blocks of the City a stroll away from here, I don’t think about business tycoons on their private jets, I think about people like me, and you. Through the window I can see the red awnings of lines of market stalls at Old Spitalfields Market - to me, this is the perfect example of business at its most basic. A bunch of stall-holders have paid £10 for a table for the day. Some are selling handmade bags; others prints and photographs. Someone else is selling second hand books, another clothes and jewellery. They may not think of themselves as entrepreneurs but they are: they are selling their wares in the market. Some may fail, others will succeed.

What unites the coffee-shop entrepreneurs and the market traders is that we have all made jobs for ourselves: there is not a job description or appraisal form in sight. The theme of Global Entrepreneurship Week is ‘Make A Job, Don't Take A Job’ and that’s music to my ears. It’s what I’ve always done in my career, whether I’ve been self employed or not. Carving out a role that reflects my talents and desires, breaking the boundaries of a fixed job spec. I’ve always encouraged working for yourself; my first book is a guidebook for people taking the leap. You don’t need a bunch of qualifications or a business education to work for yourself, but you do need the right mindset;and it’s not for everyone. Working for yourself and setting up your own business is tough: there’s no switching off, it takes stacks of perseverance, commitment, energy and passion. So ‘Make A Job, Don't Take A Job’ is a good mantra for entrepreneurship so long as we recognise that not everyone has the self-belief and motivation to make their business idea happen. To help people believe in their ability we need to bust a few myths about business, taking it out of the boardroom, doing away with the jargon. And that market stall is a damn good place to start.

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