There has always been an eternal debate between people who hold jobs and those who are into business on how a swap was all they needed to perk up their life. Businesspersons gripe on the fixed weekly-off schedule of jobholders and acutely resent the relatively stable format of a job-life.
Jobholders retort by the pithy observation that in a business you can work when you like and there is no one to control the day-offs of a trader.
The debate can go on till the cows come home, but the key learning is that there is really no matching the comforts of a business owner’s life who has lived through the vicissitudes of getting the business established. Conversely, it also needs to be known that a businessperson’s life is much harder and the initial process of setting up can be painful and involve a lot of sacrifices, not usually experienced by a salaried person.
A job, on the other hand, can only be as challenging as the lack of skill of a holder and the level of motivation. What is also important is that jobholders are always free to put in their papers and can thus be ‘relieved of the drudgery’, but a very few people do it, afraid of the consequences and societal pressures that such a move entails.
Thinking of the proposition differently, businesses that are started with the aim of offering goods and services rather than profits or money actually go on to become game-changers. Passion and service remain the key, rather than going after the ‘business that is in’.
Another point that is beyond refuting is that unless the business owner is willing to keep his or her ego aside and work inside-out to know the dynamics of his trade, he would have to hire people who will have, as their job, the growth of his business. The owner has to know his business to get his employees to work.
Even as the ‘skirmish’ between jobholders and businesspersons continues, there has been a palpable sense that for some time now, the pace of job creation has slowed down desperately, mostly as skills and jobs do not match.
This slowdown has happened even as there has been a lot of movement on the policy front to mobilise resources and prepare for a sustained phase of investment to spur growth, and hopefully jobs.
What connection any sort of investment has with the debate between jobholders and business owners, one might ask?
The connection was understood by India’s software bellwether, Infosys, pretty early on in its growth phase. Ownership spurs extra effort on the part of the professional, leading to increased productivity and thus lower costs for all. An owner does not mind working extra or sacrificing an off-day on an assignment, but a jobholder definitely does.
As of now, a few companies — of the little proportion of organised business we have in the tricity and beyond — give ownership to employees. Punjab is, of course, a state where family-owned businesses have run on for generations. Sharing ownership is a challenge that needs to be taken head-on now. It is a small step that has big ramifications for the quality of goods and services the end-customer receives.