We can’t all be entrepreneurs you know.
I mention that because there seems to be massive pressure on everyone to ride this new digital startups wave all the way until it crashes us onto the beach.
That may be alright for the younger readers but I’m not sure I want that myself. Not any more.
I hope you don’t think too badly of me, but I’d rather let someone else have a go. Pleased don’t judge me. There’s no shame in it! Besides, with everyone wanting to be the star of their own show, life’s supporting artists are going to be difficult to find.
I’ve worked in start ups where no two days were the same. In the end I got sick of it because, well, no two days were the same. I’m not ruling out ever starting up a digital business, but for now, let’s consider the benefits of letting someone else be in charge.
It’s incredibly liberating not having to make decisions actually
Making choices is incredibly hard, which is why it’s so stressful to have loads of seemingly attractive options.
Back in the 1970s, Dr Zbigniew Lipowski first identified that his fellow US citizens were less happy than in previous eras, when poverty deprived them of any attractive lifestyle choices. Since that year, when the American Journal of Psychiatry first reported on this phenomenon, numerous studies have confirmed the existence of The Paradox of Choice.
Making decisions is stressful as these choices inevitably involve a sort of emotional, comparative disadvantage. You end up being worrying about your losses rather than counting your blessings.
The same logic applies to the self-employed, whose every decision is a gamble. Tech start up bosses are especially stressed, being unproven companies in undiscovered market areas with (often) untested technology.
Under these circumstances, it can be wonderful not to have to take any responsibility and let someone else decide what job you are to do. You suffer no pangs of indecision, no chance of getting blamed if things go wrong, no late nights, no friendships sacrificed, no fruitless labour, no debts, no false promises and no endless planning meetings.
One of the biggest bugbears of being in a digital start up is the meetings
They give a false sense of reassurance because many meetings feel like work, but you don’t have to make decisions. The combination of these two feel good factors conspires to make them intoxicating. Pretty soon, you can become addicted.
Soon you realize that of all the variables you need to run a business, the most finite is time. As an entrepreneur, you often have no control over this precious resource. Managing time is an agonizing responsibility because it’s the element that is most likely to run out for a start up. Meanwhile there are all kinds of agents who, for reasons of their own, want to use your time. Choosing the right ones to spend time on is incredibly hard.
Despite all these hidden dangers, there seems to be a massive over supply of people who want to be multi-tasking, risk absorbing entrepreneurs. By contrast, there is a shortage of mono-tasking yes men, like myself, who are happy to do the job given to them.
Soon, people who think inside the box will be a rarity. Anyone who does things by the book will command a massive premium. Careers advisors and market watchers will be telling young job seekers to become order takers.
Life is so much easier not being an entrepreneur. There are no competing tasks. You just do what you have to do. The liberation from all other considerations means you can concentrate on what you are good at. Which often means getting maximum pleasure from your work.
And that, surely, is what it’s all about.