NEET or just politically nice and neat?
Micro and Small Business driven by Big Enterprising Minds
– Questions on Why and How to Further Develop
We live in times where the old adage ‘Needs must’ rings true for many, many, people. In a number of key countries, notable statistics emerging in the United States and United Kingdom, the number of self employed and micro and small businesses, MSMEs, has boomed in terms of registrations. The motivations for starting your own business are as diverse as the people starting out on the enterprise trail.
There are the two themes driving the majority of what we do in all facets of life; and these underpin the thinking of the majority of people starting out on their own; the negative and positive forces can work together or against one another to destroy businesses and the enterprise within people.
Firstly: People are enterprising; they have the desire to be self-reliant, achieving something for themselves through their own efforts and the support of like-minded people. Big enterprising minds require encouraging and support in the practicalities of how to make an enterprise idea into a business realising its potential. Alas, big business rarely is so altruistic as to facilitate competition and as we continue to see the development of internal markets to create innovation, then big business has placed itself well to stimulate then capture innovation and development.
RSA/Populus survey work1 has brought forward just how many people want to enjoy what they are doing. The motivations or incentives for taking a job are not higher pay or a shorter working week along (respectively the survey found 1 in 5 persons said pay was a driver and under a fifth of respondents [17%] said a shorter week was a driver for new work opportunities). People want to be involved in something granting a sense of satisfaction, the dignity and pride in work. A dignity lost in the days of machine like assembly lines and now being thoroughly rediscovered with bespoke production. An overwhelming 82%, 4 people out of every 5 persons who undertook the survey, said their work was more meaningful, 84% said they were more satisfied in their work now they were self employed. One in every two people said they could now use their talents to fuller capabilities.
However, there is a negative. Increasingly in United Kingdom, and a few other places where the social in capitalism has been seemingly usurped, people are facing the stark realities people in Lesser Developed and Middle Income countries face as social protection breaks down (or never developed) – do for yourselves in a World which has seen virtually everything commercialised. Face the harsh reality, as the social support platform is no longer capable of offering societal backing given the manner we have evolved as individuals and societies.
Unemployment is there, always has been. What we are seeing now are continuing industrial shakeouts in large capital-intensive industries underpinning any number of the infrastructural works on to which niche enterprises tend to build. In such settings, the nature of work is possibly changing faster than the definition of what is a job. Whilst writing lesser-developed countries, perhaps there are again lessons to be drawn across societies as we see new forms of social protection, barter and use of technology dressed in new language to have mutual support. Borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbour has become crowd-sourcing funding?
Inequity and inequality continues to grow and there are those who have made political capital from how things are going2. We are seeing (further) generational shifts and the need for further development of the educational structures3 challenging thinking, and acting, in much of the UK’s differing communities. A former Prime Minister’s exaltation to do nothing if not ‘education, education, education’ and then turn down reports to overhaul the education system of England and Wales (Scotland was far more progressive) to look at the skills we will need rings as an opportunity missed. Instead, the perpetuation of the annual political claim to have increased exam passes in a dysfunctional system was carried on. And we are paying for it as self-employment is seen not in the positive light but as a means to meet the here and now of corporate mores and addressing the NEETS of political agendas rather than the needs of the people making up this acronym.
Where are we going? The language of enterprise is definitely changing as people talk disruptive innovation; people centred skills and related phrases looking at new ideas and how to sell them to customers. We have arrived at bespoke products and the emotion of doing business. Some, many, will say these are altruisms enterprisers have known for generations. But, there are more people entering the working (away from jobs4) environment who do not know and require people with knowledge and experience to mentor them, cut through the crap and allow new enterprisers to gain from true networking.
Professor Allan Gibb5 made points I have continued to seek to differentiate in terms of the ‘how’ of doing enterprise and the ‘why’6 any of us decide to pack up jobbing and go to work.
Thus, the way forward:-
- Let us know the ‘Why?’ of the business owner/practitioner. Why are you going in this direction?
- Where are the checks and balances on big business as they deliver on their own ‘Why?’ and seek to dominate the underpinning infrastructure we all require to deliver in this age of convenience
- Let us be able to question the ‘Why?’ of the politicians – different levels, different agendas different exposures to ‘the what’ of doing business.
- How to support enterprisers through networks of mutual support; the redevelopment of cooperative movements and the revolution of worker organisations to truly be of mutual benefit
- How to offer up enablers and have responsive, and even proactive (see lessons from Leicester)7, government
- How to have government engaged for people who have become disenfranchised and/or disillusioned – Enterprise Government? Self employed administration?
And what is NEET – Not in Employment, Education or Training – which means the workers of the World now need to re-unite as working for oneself once again becomes a bigger draw than a job and employment in its usual connotation. Working for oneself in a new networked age.
3 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06qjyrr and http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21698679-europes-top-performing-school-system-rethinks-its-approach-helsinking
4 The RSA survey also noted how, through style choices and also because of cumbersome policies and related regulations the new generation of workers are less likely to create employment for others – thus another political agenda statement is undermined