Dad, I Want to be an Entrepreneur! Will You Help?

These are not words I am expecting to hear anytime soon – but who knows?

If David Cameron gets his way and he finds an army of entrepreneurs to go into local schools to promote the ‘joy’ of entrepreneurship and the job market continues to go west – it could well happen.

How would I respond?

Well, if they say they want to be an entrepreneur and ask for my help, then I will refuse it, and do all I can to persuade them away from the idea.

If they say they have to be an entrepreneur – because it is the only way they can do the work that they feel they have to do then I will roll up my sleeves and help with enthusiasm.

Why the distinction?

Because however you wrap it up, in spite of what people like Cameron say, entrepreneurship is hard.  Especially if you do not have a large bank account to bale you out when things go wrong.  I don’t think I have met a single entrepreneur in my work who would describe the experience as joyful.  Dramatic, yes.  Full of highs and lows, yes.  Scary, yes.  But joyful…not so much.

So why promote the lie?  Why continue the enterprise fairytale?

It doesn’t even help to build an enterprise culture as with increased start-ups come increased failures and more bad experiences of entrepreneurship.

It couldn’t be to do with an obsession with outputs over social impact could it?

I will leave the last word to Noel Coward:

Some years ago when I was returning from the Far East on a very large ship, I was pursued around the decks every day by a very large lady. She showed me some photographs of her daughter – a repellant-looking girl and seemed convinced that she was destined for a great stage career. Finally, in sheer self-preservation, I locked myself in my cabin and wrote this song – “Don’t Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs. Worthington”.)

Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington

Don’t put your daughter on the stage

The profession is overcrowded

The struggle’s pretty tough

And admitting the fact she’s burning to act

That isn’t quite enough

She’s a nice girl and though her teeth are fairly good

She’s not the type I ever would be eager to engage

I repeat, Mrs. Worthington, sweet Mrs. Worthington

Don’t put your daughter on the stage

So Em amd Meg – unless it is something that you have to do, ignore Messrs Cameron, Brown (remember him – architect of much enterprise policy) and their army of enterprise evangelists and give entrepreneurship a miss – at least until you have some real knowhow under your belt.

On the other hand if this is the only way that yo can do good work, and you are prepared for the journey that lies ahead, then, and only then, let’s go for it…


  1. Harry Fortune says:

    Wise words Mike.

  2. Monica Tailor says:

    Nice post Mike. I come from a long history of ‘people who work for themselves’. I don’t think any of my family would call themselves an entrepreneur even though they bought and sold, started and failed at lots of businesses. I went into a startup with my eyes wide open but I don’t think that’s the norm. Matt and I started kilo75 10 years ago, by that time I’d already helped my Dad get his latest venture off the ground (I’m now one of four Directors for our family business).  My parents didn’t encourage me, but they’ve been hugely supportive. 

    I was in my early twenties and all my friends thought it was great because ‘all my money would be my own and I could have time off whenever I want’ eh? Says it all. I expected it to be a lot of hard word, lots of boring irrelevant stuff like VAT returns, lows and highs. So why do it? Well it’s true I do have a flexible work/life but that comes at a cost. I can make my own decisions and I get a massive sense of achievement. But best of all I’ve learnt a huge amount.

    Will I encourage my kids to go it alone by promoting the joys of entrepreneurship? Erm no I don’t think so but I won’t put them off either and I’ll be on hand if they need me but I’ll let them make their own decisions.


  1. […] as possible from starting new businesses.  Only for those people who insist that this is something that they have to do should we roll up our sleeves and help.  By working in a focussed way with a relatively small […]

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