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Mark Evans

Numbers don't reflect why being an entrepreneur has growing appeal Add to ...

A recent column by economic development consultant and columnist David Campbell asked whether entrepreneurship was on the decline.

The question was triggered by information from Statistics Canada, which found that the ratio of self-employed people to those working for someone else had dropped to 18.2 per 100 in 2011 from 21 per 100 in 1998.

The data may, in fact, be accurate but I question whether the numbers really reflect the growing interest in and popularity of entrepreneurship, particularly among younger people.

From the work that I do in the high-tech sector and the people I meet, I sense that we are in the midst of an entrepreneurial renaissance.

On a regular basis, I come across people who have decided to start their own business offering a product or service, or have launched a consulting business to provide expertise and insight to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The rise of the entrepreneur has a lot to do with the volatility of the workplace. With the private and, increasingly, the public sector trying to operate leaner and meaner, job security has disappeared. Many people who have already lost their jobs are having a difficult time trying to find another full-time position.

And that means many people see less risk in turning to entrepreneurship. If getting a full-time “regular” job is more challenging, taking a shot at doing your own thing has become more attractive. It is an opportunity to become the “master of your domain,” rather than have someone else control your professional destiny.

While becoming an entrepreneur is challenging and involves risk, there is less of a “risk gap” compared with having a full-time position. And if your entrepreneurial efforts fail, it is easier to know who was to blame because you have much more control over whether your efforts are successful or a failure.

Becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It tends to be a lot more work than people expect, the hours are long and you have to continually hustle. In many cases, there is no back-up support, no one to man the fort while you go away on vacation, and when you are not doing work, you are selling. In other words, it can be a non-stop proposition.

The upside, however, is having control over your professional destiny – something I think more people are finding appealing.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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