Loss Of Jobs? No, It’s The Splendid Rise Of Entrepreneurship.

There is a bit of a wall of worry that advancing technology will eliminate a lot of jobs in the future economy. As usual with conventional wisdom, it’s the wrong way to think. What if jobs are just a bad idea, or at least one whose time has passed? What if we are on the cusp of figuring out a better way for everyone who works to be appropriately rewarded?

Let’s start with corporations, since they represent the source of most jobs. They hire workers, they offer jobs. Jobs are designed for corporate purposes. That has been a good system for a couple of hundred years, because it was the only way workers could access the capital they require to be their most productive. Specialized skills plus specialized capital combinations equals high productivity. Workers are paid in relation to their marginal variable product, and so some of them could be well remunerated if they found the right job.

But the arrangement has a little bit of a whiff of dependency. Some call it wage slavery, although that seems like a step too far. But workers are clearly dependent for access to capital. The corporation has provided that access.

Have you noticed, however, that the respect that society grants to big corporations is eroding? We can see it in the repudiation of Big Energy, Big Tech, Big Pharma, and even Big Food. The withdrawal of respect is critical, as a Big Energy CEO Bernard Looney of BP observed:

Looney said there’s no question that oil — his company’s main commodity — is becoming increasingly “socially challenged.” Even people working within BP started to have doubts about their line of work, Looney said. The company was in danger of losing staff, he said, and job candidates were reluctant to join. “There’s a view that this is a bad industry, and I understand that,” he told the Times.

Looney makes a far-reaching point. People are not going to work in a job where they get no respect, whether from their employer or form their peers or from society (represented, these days, by Twitter and Facebook). Respect is a fundamental. It’s why we work.

Lack of respect is one reason people will migrate away from Big Corporations. But economics provides another. More are realizing that the cost-benefit analysis of the career ladder / work-life value proposition is worsening. According to Bernhard Schroeder at, young people can do the math in a very sophisticated manner.

A significant portion of the Gen Z demographic is having second thoughts about whether college, and its debt/cost, is necessary to accomplish their goals.

Gen Z is becoming more open to doing college differently or not going at all, according to a new study by TD Ameritrade. The study surveyed over 3,000 U.S. teens and adults, including approximately 1,000 Gen Z (ages 15 to 21), 1,000 young Millennials (ages 22 to 28), and 1,000 parents (ages 30 to 60). About one in five Gen Z and young Millennials say they may choose not to go to college. Many others see a less conventional path through education as a good idea.

As Jared Lindzon writes at Fast Company,

the traditional pathway to career success—namely higher education and climbing the corporate ladder—has never felt more out of reach or less certain. 

What’s the alternative? Don’t take a job, make a job. Become an entrepreneur. While the PR machine for Big Corporations continues to tar entrepreneurial business with the brush of high risk and fear of failure, and as an entitlement desert without corporate benefits or the warm embrace of the corporate PR department, young people are migrating to entrepreneurship and smaller, more nimble entrepreneurial companies where they can enjoy more creative empowerment. They are calculating the cost-benefit equation in a different way.

The calculus is not just financial. There are many psychic benefits from entrepreneurship, and they’re superior to the corporate ladder option.

Earlier start

In the corporate world, it’s required that you start at the bottom of the pyramid. With sacrifice (usually of work-life balance), it’s possible to climb upwards, but the pyramid narrows quickly after you and your fellow climbers, get beyond the base, and it’s easy to get jettisoned. On the job site, you start as apprentice or assistant and do the menial tasks until you are trusted with the tools. In the restaurant, you start as waiter or dishwasher and hope there is a pathway upwards.

Entrepreneurs are starting out at a younger and younger age. Even teenage. There’s no need to climb someone else’s pyramid if you can start out as the boss.

Easy access to capital

For today’s entrepreneurs, capital is something you download from the internet. will provide all the infrastructure needed to operate a digital retail business. Alibaba will hook you up to a supply chain. Mohammed Keyhani will connect you to dozens of generative tools for business design and business building, many of them free. There’s a whole fintech world of distributed capital on offer for those who want financial backing. The cost of entry for entrepreneurship has never been lower.


Young people want to respect themselves. They’d rather be creative and resourceful and trust in their own self-confidence than to work in a corporation where they are told what to do, perhaps by people for whom they have no respect or in pursuit of hopeless strategies. The old “loyalty for security” trade (do as you are told and keep your job) is no longer as attractive as it once was. The market rather than the corporate HR department is Gen Z’s preferred mechanism for evaluating human worth and allocating human resources.


The market is uncertain. Entrepreneurship is risky. Competition is unforgiving, red in tooth and claw.

Gen Z is not buying this corporate and government propaganda either. The uncertainty in the market is human: how do people choose, what do they prefer, what do they believe constitutes good service, what makes them loyal? These questions are fascinating and engaging. Gen Z loves to swim in these waters. Empathy is a business tool they can cultivate. They know how to run the A/B tests on offers and content through which they can implement the explore-and-expand methodologies that harness the complexity of adaptive systems. Entrepreneurs embrace and welcome market uncertainty, and get an emotional reward from mastering it.

Meaning And Purpose

Active participation in the capitalist system as entrepreneurs competing to best serve customers in the economic marketplace is a source of meaning. Clay Routledge, a social psychologist at the Challey Institute contextualizes it this way:

Meaning is defined as people’s perception of the coherence, significance and purpose of their lives. We are all trying to find a place in the world where we function, and we have a desire to be significant, to play a role in society, and to have a purposeful existence.

And people understand this about themselves. They have a good subjective sense of what it means to have a meaningful and purposeful life.

Clay’s research reveals the importance of existential agency – the extent to which people believe they have the ability to pursue and maintain meaning in their lives. And people’s beliefs about meaning and existential agency influence a range of economic beliefs and views towards capitalism and entrepreneurship. People who have more existential agency were more likely to have positive views towards capitalism, about entrepreneurship, and more likely to be motivated to start or run their own business.

Clay also emphasized how much meaning in life and existential agency are associated with pro-social beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. For these people, motivation is not focused solely on their own wellbeing and their own life outcomes. Part of the motivation is to serve a community and serve society. Entrepreneurs are motivated to solve problems for others: entrepreneurship is pro-social. It can solve the major challenges of society, including macro problems like climate change or poverty.

A better choice

For Gen Z and Young Millennials, the realization is dawning that entrepreneurship is a better choice – for them as individuals, for the customers they will serve, for society and for the economy – than entry into the corporate hierarchy or wage labor in a system controlled by employers.

Unsure Of Your Direction In These Turbulent Times? Entrepreneurship Can Provide All The Answers You Need.

2020 has been a strange year. My friend Ben always asks me, “Is the world crazy enough for you today?”  He knows I nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and he likes to challenge me: there’s too much uncertainty in 2020 even for those who typically embrace it, which is a good definition of entrepreneurs.

But, in fact, entrepreneurship is the answer in crazy times. Here are several reasons why.

Entrepreneurs are independent.

In times of turbulence, whether economic or political, global, national or local, many people can get confused. They’re not sure what to think, and they find it difficult to sort through competing claims or conflicting evidence. They look for the reassurance of someone else’s opinion to latch onto.

That’s not the case with entrepreneurs. They are independent thinkers. They rigorously seek cause-and-effect where it can be found, but they are also keenly aware that complex systems – when shocked with a pandemic, a disputed election, civil unrest, zero and even negative interest rates, significant changes in shopping and travel habits – can exhibit unpredictable and unstable emergent properties.

Entrepreneurs apply their own judgment based on the information that’s available to them and the insight that’s unique to them; they make a decision; and then they test it against reality by implementing it and adapting based on the results that come back. Independent thinkers are society’s best resource amidst turmoil.

Entrepreneurs are non-ideological.

It sometimes appears that we are suffering through a clash of ideologies, whether social or political or economic. Ideologies tend to be rigid and unrelenting, and those who hold one see opponents in anyone who holds another. Ideologies are not useful to entrepreneurs, and so they don’t include them in their assembly of resources. Ideological rigidity doesn’t mix with the pragmatism and adaptiveness that are keys to entrepreneurial thriving.

A non-ideological world sounds very attractive right now.

Entrepreneurs have no time for identity politics and political correctness.

Entrepreneurs are typically pursuing a finite goal with a finite amount of resources. They need the best people they can recruit to join their team, they need clarity of communication and a shared mission. The last thing in the world they have any time for is worrying about the political correctness of a choice or of a statement. They’ll listen to legitimate market preferences of course, but they won’t be distracted by meaningless noise. entrepreneurs don’t lie bout equality or unity. They assemble diverse teams – where the diversity comes from complementary competencies not divisive demographic distinctions – and they judge on passion for the task, performance, and results. 

Entrepreneurs are non-compliant.

A consequence of the pandemic is that a portion of the population has been beaten down into a state of compliance by authorities wielding mandates. Compliance is undesirable behavior when it is viewed through the entrepreneurial lens of innovation, betterment and economic growth.

We’re all better off when there is non-compliance: when Uber refuses to comply with the mandates n favor of taxis, or when AirBnB refuses to comply with pro-hotel mandates, or when medical researchers defy those who want to constrain experimentation and progress. Non-compliance is the right stance for society, and entrepreneurs can be counted upon to take it.

Entrepreneurs hold to the ethic of service.

In our current conflicted world, capitalism is condemned by some as exploitative and even evil. Some critics see profits that they deem to be extreme and extractive of the value that workers create, others see pollution and environmental damage. They are totally wrong and completely misguided.

The ethic of entrepreneurial capitalism is to serve others. The entrepreneurial market works when producers identify unmet needs and wants among their fellow-citizens who seek betterment and improvement. Multiple entrepreneurs compete to be the one chosen by consumers to meet that need, rivaling each other to come up with the highest quality / lowest cost solution. The ethic of entrepreneurial service has raised living standards across the globe and lifted billions out of poverty.

Keeping entrepreneurs unleashed will generate more and faster improvements in the future.

Entrepreneurs believe in liberty and property.

Entrepreneurship thrives only in favorable market conditions, with the right supportive institutions. The most important of the institutions is the legal framework to make it easy to start new ventures, favors innovation (Professor Michael Munger of Duke University calls the framework permissionless innovation), and imposes as few stifling regulations as possible, so that otherwise unrealized innovation is set free. Overall, we can think of the institutions of entrepreneurship as liberty – freeing creative minds and brilliant engineers and operators to follow their purpose to wherever it takes them in the pursuit of the profit that comes from consumer approval.

The second major institution of entrepreneurship is property. Entrepreneurs stake their own property in a bet that their business can succeed and grow. They take risks with their own property – and therefore need to operate in a framework that respects private property and their right to do with it whatever they will. When private property is restricted, limited, over-taxed, over-regulated or confiscated, entrepreneurship can’t thrive.

Liberty and property together are the institutions of entrepreneurship. 

Entrepreneurship Yields Meaning And Purpose.

At the bottom line, we all seek meaning and purpose in life. Meaning refers to our framing of the difference an individual wants to make in the world, the feeling that one’s endeavors are worthwhile. Purpose refers to the specific goal the individual pursues as in making that difference.

Researchers John Bitzan and Clay Routledge of The Challey Institute have documented, based on deep research, how individuals’ belief in the free working of the entrepreneurial marketplace provides them with the sense of meaning and purpose they seek. Bitzan and Routledge call this feeling “individual agency” – the feeling of being free to act and capable of meaningful achievement in the institutional context of capitalism and free markets. Individual agency is the central idea of entrepreneurship.