2nd April 2021

 1. There are no certainties in employment anymore 

We all know that the cosy conceit of “jobs for life” is pretty much the stuff of history. My own awakening to this truth came quite early in my career.

I’d been working for large technology companies for a few years when an American colleague pointed out that my relationship with my employers was largely an illusion. I suddenly realised that the future was far from assured and that, essentially, I was a free agent.

It was my MBA that subsequently introduced me to the concept of the “new moral contract” in employment, whereby job security and long-term guarantees are increasingly replaced by more training and responsibility. It could be argued that in this environment of churn and change, rightly or wrongly, only one person can really determine how you’re able to earn a living: you.

One of the best definitions of entrepreneurship, at least in my view, is that it provides a means of managing uncertainty. In many ways, it’s the ultimate expression of job security – the notion that you’re willing to rely on your own abilities rather than placing yourself at the mercy of providence, or other people’s whims. Today, amid extraordinary levels of disruption, this is an ever more important concept.


2. The rewards for entrepreneurs can be multi-faceted and significant

It’s been several years since my own entrepreneurship professor told me that one of the key advantages of being an entrepreneur is the lifestyle it offers. He revealed that he not only earned as much as members of his peer group in their senior roles in blue-chips and consultancies but, unlike them, never missed his children’s sports days or similar occasions.

Entrepreneurship can still offer a level of work-life balance that’s seldom available in ‘traditional’ employment. There is a lot to be said for being your own boss when it comes to doing what you want to do, when you want to do it.

Studies have also shown that entrepreneurs usually have more fun in their careers and are more likely to be engaged in something for which they have a genuine passion. Unlike so many of those trapped in the realm of what used to be known as the ‘nine-to-five’, very few feel compelled to devote their time to matters that they roundly despise.

And, we shouldn’t forget, of course, that entrepreneurship also offers the chance of substantial financial rewards. These traditionally come via a capital gain and exit. Naturally, this isn’t to suggest that there are no risks – but that’s what backing your own abilities is all about.


3. Entrepreneurs have an ever-growing economic role to play 

It goes without saying, given recent events, that employers might not be able to provide jobs growth anymore. In tandem, we still have fierce global competition between different countries and cultures – all of which are ultimately battling for wealth.

Entrepreneurs tend to generate far more wealth than simply paying salaries. They create wealth for themselves, for their employees and for their countries. This is particularly true of those specialising in innovation.

History has undoubtedly underlined that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies constitute the principal source of innovation. Just think of how the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook have transformed our day-to-day lives – and then think of the ruined legacies of the likes of Kodak, Enron and Worldcom.

In addition, it’s generally accepted that entrepreneurs are more likely to “put back” into their communities. This represents an important “spreading mechanism” at a time when wealth is in danger of becoming more and more concentrated.


4. We teach entrepreneurship because it can be taught

One of the reasons we should prepare young people to be entrepreneurs is that we need to set expectations. To put it another way: we need to encourage young people to be more demanding of themselves, to be more proactive about being masters of their own fate and to be more commercial.

There’s another crucial reason, though: entrepreneurs are generally made, not born. Those who succeed again and again do so because of the skills and experience that they bring to bear and the processes that they apply. Consistent success is built on an ability to solve problems, frame prospects, articulate propositions, minimise risk and maximise opportunities.

Curiously, it’s these skills that are frequently the least acknowledged and most misunderstood of all. In some quarters, they’re regarded as something akin to “gifts” – something a lucky few are born with and which others can only dream of developing.

It might just be conceivable that some entrepreneurs innately possess such abilities, but it doesn’t automatically follow that those who aren’t blessed with them from birth can’t possibly learn them in later life. To reiterate: these are skills – and skills can be taught. This is why entrepreneurship is an emerging management science and therefore a profession; and this is why it needs to be recognised and explained as such if it’s to deliver on its remarkable potential.


David Falzani MBE is a Professor at Nottingham University Business School’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and president of the Sainsbury Management Fellowship.