Extremely Foreword: When Do Entrepreneurs Get To Strike?
31 Jul 2023

Curiously, entrepreneurs don’t go on strike.

Going on strike seems to be all the rage – and none dare oppose it for fear of being perceived as some sort of fanatic rationalist or centrist extremist. So there are strikes all around AND they have to be liked and supported. I see it with nurses and doctors and teachers and train drivers and – well – you get a strike, YOU get to strike, YOU get to strike, EVERYONE gets to strike!

Except for one group.

Conspicuously absent.

They always pay enormous lip service to the entrepreneur crowd. Not a single politician doesn’t support small business when it comes to talkies… though few of them make one hoot of difference when it comes to the walkies. Academics acknowledge the crucial value to the economy, to industry, to business, to innovation, to progress, to civilisation itself, made by entrepreneurs. School kids are sold the idea that they should get into it. It’s important, it is vital, it is awesome…

And it has the worst working conditions imaginable. High failure rate. Long, long hours. Unpaid work. Endless personal risk (don’t let legal niceties like ‘limited liability’ fool you – they will eat your personal lunch – and ask for seconds – if your business don’t pay).

Given sufficient size, businesses become bureaucracies. It is no longer close to the survival line – there’s plenty of fat (or perceived fat) on the bones, and those within are shielded from the cruelty and caprice of objective reality. Hence, they can demand, fairly in some cases and quite unfairly in others, RIGHTS.

Before it gets big, while it is being created, and built, and while it constantly hugs the survival line, the entrepreneur enjoys no RIGHTS. Customers not paying? Too bad. Big corporations letting you wait 90 days where your bills are upfront? So what. Won’t have any income hit your own account for months? Tough titty.

Not shielded by legacy holdings and well established safety margins, the entrepreneur has a simple choice: soldier on or throw in the towel.

Some throw in the towel, yes. But why give up all that low and no pay, long nights, early mornings, endless frustrations, sabotage by government, constant anxiety, ever-present fear and uncertainty?

There’s always the chance you make it!

If you don’t make it… you know, bankers will eat you personally, employees will move on, you might lose your marriage, be seen as a loser personally and professionally, a mess that takes years to clean up and trying to rebuild your life, but with less energy, lots of grey hair and gnawing self doubt.

While going through it, you will be ALONE in ways you can’t describe. Failure is an orphan. Boy, those crickets echo when you’ve splattered to a halt at the rock bottom of the coal face…

If you do make it – a whole bunch of freeloading lunch-takers will insist on their rights all the way down or up, demanding increases for showing up, taking none of the risk, and you would – against all odds – do something of real value to humanity and the world.

Only to be called greedy and ‘rich’ and have people on ‘Threads’ bitch about you personally like they know you, because you had the goshdarn bad taste to be successful. And you might even get a few mouth-breather do-gooder oversight providers (read celeb politicians who need stunts to bolster their street cred) come after you for the audacity of actually hitting a target neither they or the trolls ever even tried to hit. Insisting that you pay your fair share despite the fact that, most days, the IV of economic life support sucks directly from your wallet.

Success, you’ll notice, seldom stays an orphan.

Everyone shows up ready to adopt. Hell, its practically theirs from the beginning. You’ll hear how everyone helped you (made you, in fact). You’ll be exhorted to build longer tables (not higher walls, fascist) because comrades, friends, family, quiet quitters and slow goers all have to eat (and boy, they’re hungry).

Your generosity best be as disproportionate as the risks (and beatings) you took and the sacrifices you made along the way – or Huffpost and Guardian will start running hit pieces on you, quoting that useless excuse for a ‘worker’ you fired for theft 16 years ago as a character reference and your crazy bipolar ex-wife as an authoritative source on economic policy.

And you best be certain that your public utterances and opinions – given your status now on top of the kingdom you eked out (which in retrospect looks so easy and obvious) – are the correct ones.

Can’t have you going off script when there’s a popularity contest to be won every four years.

Compared to a 09:30 to 16:00, plus an hour lunch break, paid leave, health and safety bubble protecting from papercuts and potential insult, compulsory pension, and the salary that pings predictably come hell or high water, as well as a bike to work scheme and dental… (you know, the types who strike, since they’re not animals, darn it…)

What’s not to like?