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The big problem with comparing employees and entrepreneurs

employee vs entrepreneur

What frustrates me the most is entrepreneurs who think they are better or of higher value than employees. The only reason that most entrepreneurs are able to realise their vision is through building and leading a great team.

So that’s why the image above I’ve taken from Facebook today irks me – it says to me that:

  • this is what an entrepreneur thinks an employees is
  • being an entrepreneur is better than being an employee
  • employment is not a legitimate way to earn a living
  • and it gives employees less credit than they deserve

In short, I completely disagree with the image that’s depicted here, and Eric Worre (highly influential in the network marketing industry) should not be sharing it with his audience. It’s short sighted and naive, especially since a significant number of network marketers are actually employees!

Back to the image – I don’t think you can truly compare employee with entrepreneur. The lines are far more blurred than these very basic assumptions about employee and entrepreneurial behaviour.

To dig into this comparison we have to first of all understand what an entrepreneur is, and then discuss how the dynamic of the entrepreneur and the employee work together.

Am I an entrepreneur?

I’m still not 100% comfortable with calling my self an entrepreneur. I think it’s fine when someone else calls you an entrepreneur, but I find it hard to call myself that.

Though over time I’ve become much more comfortable with it, simply because I’ve gained a better understanding of what I think an entrepreneur is.

My career in brief:

  • Student in formal education (5 – 19 at school and college, 28 – 31 at university)
  • Employee & employer (19 – 29)
  • Business owner & employer (31 – now (34))

In the middle block where I worked for a larger organisation for 10 years I employed 100s of people, from service level assistants to managers.

In the past 5-6 years I have started a few different enterprises most notably a music promotions company with a friend (failed), I joined a network marketing opportunity (stopped) and I started my own business (currently building). I am an employer and I also utilise freelancers in my day to day ‘work’.

I think it’s also worth stating that I’m actively building a strong community around my own vision, and those within the community are not employed, but we all share something in common. Something I can discuss later, but also highlights the blurring of descriptions & statuses about how to realise and build a vision or purpose.

In short, I have a very varied experience from student, to employee, to employer, to business owner.

It’s taken me quite a bit of time to work this out for myself so I’m going to get my current thoughts (March 2016) out here on my blog, for the record.

What is an entrepreneur?

Here’s what I think an entrepreneur is, or someone who behaves in an entrepreneurial way:

  • Has a vision or purpose larger than themselves
  • Creates something unique that didn’t exist before
  • Provides value to a market place that solves some kind of problem that people will benefit from
  • Finds a method to make a profit from said entrepreneurial activity (not all cases!)

This is how an entrepreneur views an employee:

  • Someone who believes in and understands the purpose and entrepreneurial vision
  • Without the employees the vision cannot be realised to its full potential
  • Should be adequately rewarded for assisting in the realisation of the vision

Can an employee be an entrepreneur?

The short answer is yes, and another reason why the image I’ve made reference to is complete bollocks.

An employee can operate within the organisation and can lead with their own vision and higher purpose, this is especially true where there is congruence with that of the entrepreneurial vision.

Essentially, we would like everyone to believe in the same purpose.

Within the organisation an employee can recognise unique opportunities and create something that didn’t exist before. They can also increase the value of an organisation by using their experience, skills and knowledge to solve problems better, faster and more effectively.

Is network marketing entrepreneurship?

I would also like to share my thoughts on network marketing. It’s relevant here simply because the image was shared by a network marketing thought leader – whom I hold in high regard.

When I was heavily involved in network marketing I think that I thought I was an entrepreneur, but I wasn’t. I think that most people in network marketing are not entrepreneurs either. I’m quite happy to go on the record with this because it’s what I believe, and you may disagree,

To be clear, I’m not saying that network marketing is a dishonest way to earn an income. I actually believe 100% in the model, especially if it’s a great product and reputable company. But here’s why it’s not entrepreneurial. And to be extra clear here, this is my opinion, based on what I’ve outlined above.

  • Entrepreneurs very rarely buy opportunities, they make them
  • You do not own the product you are selling – it’s not yours, you didn’t create it, and you don’t control it
  • The entrepreneur typically has the passion to build their own dream, not someone else’s

When I was involved with network marketing something didn’t sit right with me – and it was because I had the vision to create something of my own, to invent something new, something unique, something that I could build to be successful, something I believe in.

I believe that this is inside every true entrepreneur.

During my time in network marketing I essentially had a job, which I had to pay for the privilege to be a part of. Every time I made a sale, I made money, but I didn’t have any ownership and I certinaly didn’t have full control.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being an employee, being involved in a franchise or network marketing opportunity. I feel I have to make that clear. We all have our own dreams to fulfil, our paths to build and create and we live in a world where we can choose that path for ourselves.

Everyone has the potential to be an entrepreneur, regardless of what they are actually doing or what your job title may be. You can also be involved in many of these things at the same time (not recommended!)

Leadership is everything

The job of a great entrepreneur is to be a great leader (vision, purpose, ideas, opportunities), who then allows leadership to be present at all levels within the organisation to help to realise the entrepreneurial vision.

Of course, it’s entirely possible to employ the wrong people, it’s also entirely possibly that the entrepreneur cannot lead effectively.

I do not think you can simply compare an employee to an entrepreneur using basic functions of either role as a comparison. I also don’t think you can effectively compare with out clarity on the definitions of either.

Sharing an image like this on the Internet says more about entrepreneurs than the employees. And it certainly says a lot about those that share it.

Employees in jobs are pretty much the only reason you can buy anything today; from buying your lunch in a restaurant, to purchasing a used car from a garage, to ordering a product from the Internet. Every single step of the way there’s someone with a job, who probably want’s something better for themselves one day and is working to improve their own lives and provide for their family.

The best entrepreneurs will provide their employees with that opportunity and treat others as they would like to be treated, and view their employees as assets that will assist in the creation of something unique and special.

DFTBA!

Chris.

  • Nicola Donnelly

    I really enjoyed the discussion today and your post answers some key questions that came up around it. It’s important to share views – even when you know people will disagree, and people you respect. When you take a position on a discussion you build an even deeper connection with those who share your point of view. It would be boring if everyone agreed all the time and being authentic creates trust in a community. DFTBA!