Blameless “Poor Me” SMEs or Innovative Entrepreneurs?
With the election behind us the debate heats up about how independent businesses have fared under a recession-hit Labour Government.
Contradictory opinions abound:
The recession hit the backbone of British economy
AND we needed a shake-out to get rid of the underperforming businesses
Independent businesses were being ignored and allowed to close
AND they all deserve to go bust
Business Link (=The Government) was doing nothing to help businesses
AND Business Link saved my business
Independent businesses deserve grants and help because they are a good thing
AND they need to fend for themselves.
The problem with these conflicting ideas is seen most clearly when people talk about “entrepreneurs”.
I apologise for my binary (black and white) way of looking at things but sometimes it is useful to play the Devil’s Advocate and use extremes to understand what is really going on. So, my thoughts…
There seem to be two stereotype definitions of the noun, “entrepreneur”, that co-exist in the world. However they, entrepreneurs, are treated as one homogeneous group.
The first group is what I call the “Blameless Poor Me SME” – always using the word “they” to describe the reasons for their difficulties: the banks, accountants, customers, staff, competitors – “they” are always the problem. Note that “I” am never the problem. Curious that one!
The second group is the innovative and inspiring “can do” entrepreneurs – inspiring, motivating rule-breakers.
The conundrum is that we talk about “entrepreneurs” and choose the relevant definition to fit the circumstances. So, the whinging, helpless, complaining business people who feel that they are owed a living just because they run their own business co-exist in the Government’s and the Press’s eyes with the other group who are also described as “entrepreneurs”.
The other group are the new wave of innovative and creative thinking who challenge the boundaries of current thinking to come up with new and different ways of satisfying customer demand.
These groups are not the same.
For many entrepreneurs (using either of the above definitions!), the recession has been brutally cruel; for some it has been a time of rich-pickings.
Looking at how people have responded to the recession has been fascinating.
What’s in a Name?
To be honest, the discussion about what we call business owners (SMEs, independent businesses, small businesses, entrepreneurs, owner-managers) is a bit of a dead end. Getting a little philosophical, knowing what something is called does not necessarily help us to understand what it is.
What is clear is that the entrepreneurial mindset, which there is little ambiguity about, is a crucial characteristic in businesses that are fighting their way through survival to growth.
Some small businesses have had one entrepreneurial idea (“I want to run a business”) but since then they have played everything safely. They bought themselves a job for life.
The energy, enthusiasm and passion that comes with the entrepreneurial mindset – the ability to spot an idea, muster the resources and make it all happen – is even more important if we are going to craft our way out of the current recession.
Einstein’s definition of insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Some business owners behave like they’ve got stuck and trapped. They look a little like the poor polar bears in the old-fashioned zoos endlessly pacing to relieve themselves of the boredom of their incarceration. Some small business owners seem to go round and round in circles. They need to get unstuck. Probably they need help to get unstuck.
Please… be entrepreneurial… do something different!