The 5th of September was the Entrepreneur Day in Finland. Although I live in Spain, I marked this special day on my calendar several weeks earlier with an intention to celebrate it. The idea was to buy a bottle of cava for both the two owners and myself. We all have experienced the long and winding road of entrepreneurship: all the ups and downs, of which the latter seems to have dominated. As all entrepreneurs know, behind every successful entrepreneur is a series of trials and errors.
One could describe entrepreneurship as a kind of mental disorder: determination and optimism, which sometimes is based on an illusion, combined with a continuous battle for survival. An entrepreneur goes through the lowest of lows, continuing resiliently in situations where a normal person would have given up long before. Before her final success the entrepreneur rises and falls for years at worst, creating a new path, on which no one has walked before.
Unfortunately, the employee very often doesn’t understand and hence value the vast amount of sacrifices his employer has made to employ him. This is due to the fact that he simply isn’t crazy enough to sacrifice his whole leisure time, and at worst his family and whole earthly possessions in order to build a business. Most probably the employee doesn’t understand the amount of things the entrepreneur has had to give up and be left without in order for the employee to get her salary even during the toughest times.
A colleague entrepreneur understands perfectly what I am talking about when I tell him that there has been a time when I needed to try and warm up our home using tea candles or when our whole family had to eat only potatoes and lentils for weeks in a row to be able to pay the workers their salaries.
Fortunately I have mostly had very positive experiences on employees. However, I have also come across with a type of employee who, despite all the discussions and numerous attempts to improve circumstances, feels, with no real grounds, that she is a victim who is being exploited and oppressed and whose sole purpose is to make her employer rich.
When it comes to small and middle-sized companies the employee very seldom is a mere figure, because the entrepreneurs understand that there is no company without the employee. Usually the problems start when the company grows big, and the entrepreneur must delegate most of his responsibilities. This may lead to a situation where the new key people lack the entrepreneurial mentality and morals.
The law protects the employee in many ways, and for a good reason. The entrepreneur is protected mostly by the law of the jungle.
I was actually surprised that there is a day dedicated to entrepreneurs. The 1st of May is dedicated to workers in many countries and is very often a general holiday protected by law. It is quite possible that some entrepreneurs celebrated their Entrepreneur Day by paying reassessments or maybe had a surprise visit from the tax or social security authorities, or received some other not so pleasant surprise from the authorities even though they are trying their best to meet all the growing demands of the law.
In my opinion, our society should understand and appreciate its entrepreneurs much more. According to the statistics, a major part of our economy lies on the hard work of entrepreneurs, especially small and medium-sized businesses. Most of these entrepreneurs are self-employed.
The unfortunate fact is that the majority of entrepreneurs are not rich, not even well-off. Especially in small businesses, not to mention the self-employed, the life of an entrepreneur is a continuous attempt to provide for themselves and their families. Very often the underlying reason is the vast amount of tributary responsibilities and other obligations.
It’s good to bare in mind that the growth of many companies is restrained by the inability of the entrepreneur to expand her business because of the lack of needed skills or the unwillingness to delegate her responsibilities to people with the required skills to help her grow her business.
I remember clearly learning in The Helsinki School Of Economics And Business Administration, now known as The Aalto University, at the Entrepreneurship Course that the biggest sole reason for the failure to grow one’s business is the need to control everything. The entrepreneur is unable to stay in total control all by himself in an expanding company, which at worst leads to the failure of the whole business.
The entrepreneurs could, and I think they should, demand an improvement in their situation. For example, in the case of a bankruptcy the entrepreneur is left with no protection, whereas her employees get full benefits. However, the entrepreneur is most probably not going to do that. He is too busy creating future for himself and for his employees. In addition, the entrepreneur very seldom complains. Instead she does something about it, very often sacrificing herself emotionally and physically.
Having said this, it is obvious what happened with the bottles of cava: I didn’t have the time to go and buy them during the work hours. That day, as every other day, everything else was a priority: the daily tasks, clients, and foremost the employees. As I left the office, I remembered my plan of buying the bottles, but thought to myself: “Never mind. I’d rather go home and work some more than waste my precious time in a supermarket – and hopefully get a little bit of rest as well.”