James Mayes

Blog: Get a proper job

In Investment, Personal Development, Start-ups on June 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

Or, to go with the original Pink Floyd-inspired title:

We don’t need no… entrepreneurs!

I’m going to come right out and clear this one before I get into the intended post. I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur.  I’ve been involved in multiple start-up firms and undertaken freelance assignments on more than one occasion – but on the basis that I haven’t yet sold a hugely successful business, I can’t say I’ve achieved the position of a successful entrepreneur.  That being said, I’ll admit I love start-up culture and that I’ll continue to work in this environment until I make it!

So, the post itself.  Having taken the career route I have, you tend to notice patterns emerging in start-up life.  Many are well-documented, by both successful entrepreneurs and by the financiers who make it their business to back them. There’s one I’ve not yet read about yet though – so I thought I’d take a stab.  I’ll start with a question I’ve heard regularly over the past decade.

“When are you going to get a proper job?”

This, I think, accurately sums up what’s on my mind.  Running a freelance enterprise, working for yourself, creating a start-up business – these ARE proper jobs. As those who’ve tried it will tell you, it’s a fair way tougher than most 9-5 jobs you can name – you know, those ones with a big secure employer who pays you on time, where you can focus on just the responsibilities of your role, not having to be across absolutely everything?

I get the impression (and tell me if I’m wrong) that there are a vast swathe of people who think starting a company, or indeed running as a freelancer, is an easy ride – hence, “get a proper job”. Doing this start-up stuff is unbelievably tough, in both time commitments and mental attitude. It takes it’s toll on your family too, who constantly worry if you’re still going to be in business next week, next month, etc.

This is how EVERY business starts. It’s good for the economy, it’s great for innovation, yet somehow many people don’t take it seriously.  I wanna know why! Is it because they don’t understand? It’s viewed as non-conformist? An easy ride? Because others would like to, but are scared?

I’ll come back to this in future, but for now, I’d love your thoughts. I’d also like to share an image with you.  When I started writing this, I wasn’t going to have a graphic on here – some posts do, some don’t. However, I stumbled across this. Sums up nicely why I’m quite happy risking it all on a start-up, every time.

  1. Right with you there James. Even a couple of years into building SocialOptic I still get friends (who are in ‘proper’ jobs) saying things along the lines of ‘I Wish I was doing what you’re doing – must be great to have all that free time to yourself’, and ‘What do you find to do all day?’. I console myself by remembering that they have been doing ‘proper’ jobs for so long that they have mistaken work with the ‘place you go to’ rather than the ‘thing you do’.

    • Thanks Jim! Never heard that last line before, but I absolutely love it. Believe me when I say I’ll be quoting you in the not too distant future!

  2. Wow James! I never imagined that people think this way. I tip my hat to any person who strikes out on his /her own as a private consultant, entrepreneur, single business owner, etc. I have always looked at these folks as having a lot of courage and conviction. Not everyone is cut out to do this. It really takes a vision, a plan and the will to make it work. The folks I know who struck out on their own seem to be following their hearts and souls. Bravo to them!

    • I think it highlights one of the many cultural difference between US & UK business. Similar to the approach to failure – in the UK, there’s still a stigma attached to it – in the US, fail fast, learn and move on seems to be accepted order of the day.

  3. Hi James, I’m the person, that it has an impact on – my husband is a single business owner. I totally agree with you – we still worry about the next month. I’d like to add, that I don’t know nothing else what changes your character like this kind of job. Creating a start-up business makes you more conscientious, punctual, meticulous and more sacrificed to work that no other job can make – it is because what you do, you do entirely with ‘your heart and soul’. This is the RESPONSIBILITY!

  4. Strange but that phrase was thrown at me yesterday! Although it made me angry we have to recognise that it would be difficult to take the risk of working for ourselves if we did not have the support of our other working half. And as for the rest that show negativity I guess they also long to take the leap but find it hard to take the risk or maybe do not have the support that we have around us.

    • I guess that’s why many successful start-ups are lead by young people – happier to take the risk, less in the way of dependents, etc. Course, that’s a somewhat simplistic view 😉

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