WHO DOES SMALL BUSINESS WORK 4/FOR?
Self-Employed, Entrepreneur, Founder, CEO – do you recognize any of these titles? Do you use any of them to describe or title yourself? Well, it says a lot about your attitude if you do!
Have you ever thought about who you actually work 4/for as the business owner? This isn’t a trick question or judgment. There aren’t any wrong or right answers here, and sometimes it’s an answer that reflects the generation you were born into. Let’s take me for example.
I became a business owner approximately 40 years ago. In those days we all just ticked the “self-employed” box. So you might say that the answer to my question “Who do I work 4/for?” back then would have been ME. I don’t think I need therapy about it, but that’s how we viewed it. I took the risk; I signed the cheques (no eft yet LOL). You didn’t delegate much because it was a badge of honor to work yourself to the bone. 2 major things didn’t exist yet – the journey of an entrepreneur and work-life balance. It was all perspective.
When you discover the joy and pain of being self-employed, it either breaks you or it defines you. We all do it for different reasons, circumstances, and life-changing moments. We don’t all have the same motivations or have the same goals…. You would think we have a lot of similarities, but we don’t have as many as you might initially suspect. It was only when I started to employ and manage a lot of people that my mindset changed – I still think of myself as self-employed occasionally…but mostly for nostalgia.
I surveyed 400 SMEs, asking the very same question and I got the expected variations. My conclusions – while they are only anecdotal, are based on decades of hands-on business owner experience, my advocacy work during my time in politics and now as a consultant.
I discovered that what we define or label our title or role within the business, tends to reflect our personality and therefore our own style. I’m not talking about leadership style, it’s definitely linked to ownership. Being the boss, head honcho, buck-stops-with-me or chief crap kicker often isn’t enough for some, they need a label lane to travel in.
I also suspect that if we could get our hands on the physical business plans of the 4/for – digital, paper, or other, we would see one of those titles as the epicenter or top of the tree/pyramid.
The reason I’m coming at it from the entry point of the title is that it explains a lot more than it deflects. When you break down what motivates you as the owner to be in your business, then you can define more accurately whom you work 4/for. And keep in mind – again, that all answers are correct because it’s subjective. Working for you could be the same as working 4/for your family. Working for the greater good is often motivated 4/for or by your life experience – it’s the cause of the AH HA! moments that lead to the clarity of who and what you work 4/for.
Now let’s take a closer look at what happens when you see it clearly. Do you start as an entrepreneur or grow into it, or do you start as a founder at the peak of fashionable keywords? Again, the survey pointed to generational entry into ownership reflected the title.
What gets you out of bed in the morning, what motivates you to keep going when the tough moments flatten you? Is it financial gain? Is it job satisfaction? Is it just being able to work in a field that you love with people who want what you want?
Our survey data says that it’s often a combination of the above and sometimes it’s just one, it depended heavily on what stage in the business and personal life the SME owners were in…. a bit like puberty I think. When your finally an adult in the ownership cycle, you get comfortable in your own skin, I think. You play to your strengths and highlight them. We know exactly what we need to be happy and that tends to be all the motivation we need. I’m not sure if you see what I just did then, but it all came back to working 4/for me/you the individual only with 2022 vernacular.
In the old days, self-employed people worked 4/for themselves and it was financial, now it’s to find their happy place. Same same?