Employers compete for employees; Industries compete for entrepreneurs

Many great companies offer some pretty compelling enticements to join their teams. For a long time, we’ve seen perks like great health benefits, team happy hours, and lunches or breakfasts. More recently, employers have started offering unlimited vacation and 20% time. The trend is toward treating employees like creative, responsible adults. This is great, and I hope to see it continue.

Why is this happening? Speaking personally, we seek to offer this sort of work environment at GuildQuality because I want the people in my life to be in constant pursuit of self-actualization. Entrepreneurs seek to make the world into their image of how it should be, so those who value freedom and respect responsibility seek to bring freedom and responsibility to their workplaces.

But that’s not the only reason. More practically, businesses need great people, and great people want to work in great environments, on great projects, with other great people, where they feel they’re having a great impact. As a result, businesses compete for employees by creating as positive a work environment as possible.

Entrepreneurs, for all their quirks, aren’t so different from employees. They, too, want freedom. They want to work with great people. They want have a positive impact. They want to spend as little time as possible on administrivia and bureaucracy. They want to spend as much time as possible being creative and bringing their ideas to life.

Imagine, then, that industries are like employers for entrepreneurs. The best employees are selectively choosing where they’ll work. They ask themselves questions like,

Where will I have the freedom to be creative?

Where will I be rewarded?

Where will I get to work with wonderful people?

Where will I be able to have an impact?

And where do people want to work now? The internet. And why? Because they have no restrictions on their freedom or opportunity.

Unfortunately, we can’t eat the internet. The internet can’t heal us, nor can it shelter us from the elements. So if we’d like to start seeing real innovation — like the kind Tyler Cowen argues we’ve lost in The Great Stagnation — then as a culture, we have two choices:

1) We could aggressively regulate and corporatize the internet, so that all the profits from that industry would concentrate among only a few really big businesses, and all the time spent being creative and innovating would be consumed by time spent prostrating before bureaucrats for permission and favors. That would make entering the internet industry as distasteful a prospect as it is for other industries, thereby pushing more talented people toward industries that feed, heal, or shelter people.

2) We could strip the drag from the other industries.

Imagine what the built environment would look like if technology’s greatest entrepreneurs pursued a career in real estate development. They wouldn’t, of course, because this is too common a story.

Can you imagine people like Sergey, Larry, Steve, and Bill suffering impediments to their creativity? Of course not. As a result, we can’t dwell in the neighborhoods and homes they build. Nor can we be healed by the procedures they invent, or eat the foods they grow or serve.


5 Comments on “Employers compete for employees; Industries compete for entrepreneurs”

  1. hengels says:

    Imagine what the built environment would look like if technology’s greatest entrepreneurs pursued a career in real estate development. They wouldn’t, of course, because this is too common a story.

    Can you imagine people like Sergey, Larry, Steve, and Bill suffering impediments to their creativity? Of course not. As a result, we can’t dwell in the neighborhoods and homes they build. Nor can we be healed by the procedures they invent, or eat the foods they grow or serve.

    I couldn’t agree more! It seems like I have to liberate the whole industry, just so I can be the creative entrepreneur I want to be. So frustrating….

    • Geoffrey Graham says:

      I feel your pain. I am forever affected by the absurd conversations I’ve had with DOT employees, elected officials, and bureaucrats. I actually appreciate the many who recognize the absurdity, and seek to help the developer navigate it. Unfortunately most seem to view the inefficiencies of the process and the authority of the authorities as some sort of inviolable great chain of being.

  2. […] on in the least regulated segment of our economy? Not surprisingly, our technology sector attracts our brightest entrepreneurs and remains one of the few areas where we outperform the rest of the world in the quality of our […]

  3. […] completely favoring large, established corporations. I’ve written some about that (here and here and here and here), and many other people have as well. Even so, all the bellyaching doesn’t […]

  4. […] completely agree. Regulation favors big business, and this sort of sludge drives talented entrepreneurs to enter other industries, where they can spend more of their time creating and less of it fighting for the freedom to […]


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