Over the last month, wee Tom, has been wrestling with the decision of whether he should stay within his stable, long-term, relatively well-paid chosen career of teaching or strike-out on his Jack-Jones and place himself at the mercy of the booming gig economy. Having taken a somewhat similar decision thirty years ago, I’ve been able to see both sides and have voiced an opinion or two when asked, but it’s his shout: you pays your money, you takes your choice.
Act now! You’re important to me. You do still want to hear from me, don’t you? I’ve updated my communication policy and will not let anyone else use your data. Probably. Yeah, right, like I’d give you the chance of bowing out and not receive my raucous rants.
Having spent a lifetime in recruitment (reincarnation intones I must have been one helluva bad boy in a previous life) people often feel free to vent their spleen at me with regards to recruiters not acknowledging their application, never calling them back, providing feedback and/or not doing much of value in the first place. In many instances they’re probably right and the whole industry does seem to lack the most basic regard for courtesy and manners, with the general consensus being recruitment agents occupy a space on the evolutionary scale somewhere between mould and arthropod.
Having been fortunate enough to have undertaken business directly with Steve Jobs back in his NeXT days I was intrigued to see that a job application, submitted by the supreme being, will imminently go up for auction. With an estimated value in the tens of thousands it was reassuring to see his spelling, grammar and punctuation was just as poor as it had been in his hand-written and faxed offer-letters some twenty years later.
Having started my own company in the pre-VC/dotcom boom and then being fortunate enough to being involved with a couple of start-ups thereafter, I’ve been lucky in seeing how circumstances and ambitions can change and develop over time. Here’s some food for thought that the current crop of founding entrepreneurs may perhaps find of value.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that just because, in the dim and distant past, I’ve sold a business, I’d have half a clue as to the pitfalls a budding entrepreneur would face when approaching such a task. And of course, you’d be wrong! This has been clearly shown to be the case over the last couple of months as Tibit positions itself to trade its soul in some Faustian pact with the investment community. Everyone talks of exit whereas I’m still on the ‘growing a profitable business’ page. But, with the availability of cheap money, acquisitive trade-buyers all fearful of missing out, and lots of private-equity cash sloshing around, there’s apparently never been a better time to sell a business, and it made me think of how I’d go about it, second time around.
As an ex-owner of a recruitment company that often ‘employed’ over 125 freelance IT contractors I fully appreciate I’m on thin-ice with regards to the recent landmark decision made in respect of gig-economy’s golden-boy, Uber. By ruling in favour of the individual drivers, the employment tribunal is quite rightly questioning Uber’s protestations that their drivers are not grafting directly for the firm, but thriving entrepreneurs in their own right and consequently, working for themselves. Complete twaddle.
No, not the face-painted glam stars of your not-so-rebellious musical past, but that relatively-old business acronym applied to all scenarios, Keep It Simple, Stoopid. And I use the ‘business’ term loosely as, coming from the very periphery of the computing-industry where anyone speaks of keeping it simple, the general idea is to make it as unbelievably complex as possible so we bamboozle anyone & everyone into buying this quarter’s must-have target-achieving-job-keeping product.
Back in the day when I kicked-off my highly dubious recruiting career (1984 for the pedants out there) we had a saying – lies, damn lies & CVs – and yes, each industry & profession did indeed have its own substituted version of this modern-day proverb. So, at the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, each and every CV was approached with a certain amount of scepticism, if not a huge pinch of salt.
Having come of age, in the business sense, during the 80s and 90s it’s fair to say that I’ve used more than my fair share of TLAs (there I go again), three letter acronyms, and partook in way too many blue-sky meetings where we put our heads-together, thunked out of the box and sang from the same hymn sheet whilst pushing some imaginary envelope downstream. Guilty as charged, y’honour.