Entre-Employee & Temp-Employee Are The Only Career Options Left

Employment is not what it used to be. Welcome to the new world of entrepreneurial employees.

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Employment is not what it used to be. Welcome to the new world of entrepreneurial employees.


Entre-Employee & Temp-Employee Are The Only Career Options Left

Employment is not what it used to be. Welcome to the new world of entrepreneurial employees.

Share this article

Entre-employees are the new upper class. Demand for entrepreneurship and innovation are at an all-time high in both the U.S.1 and the U.K.2 This makes sense because self-employed people make up nearly three-fourths of all millionaires in the world.3

Business owners, including online business owners, comprise 74% of all millionaires in the U.S. and 43% of all millionaires in the U.K.4 Senior executives, such as company CEOs and CFOs like Tim Cook (Apple) or John Mackey (Whole Foods) make up 10%.

Doctors, lawyers, and other people with advanced degrees make up another 10%. Salespeople and consultants make up 5%, and the remaining 1% belongs to stockbrokers, inventors, actors, directors, authors, songwriters, athletes, and lottery winners.

Here’s the kicker: most of these entrepreneurs used to work for someone else. This means that before these millionaires were entrepreneurs, they were entre-employees. They started their businesses (or at the very least developed their business model and plan) while working at their day job. And guess what? Today’s employers are encouraging you to do this too.

Why Employers Want to Hire Entrepreneurs

It might sound confusing, but employers like to see some entrepreneurial spirit in their employees, even though they are hiring them to work for the company. This does not mean that they want you to quit immediately and start your own business, but they do want you to demonstrate some of the necessary attributes to work independently and take responsibility for your work.

Employers value employees who are capable of performing without needing to be continuously supervised. They want employees who perform with minimum supervision but know when to ask for explicit instruction. They also value employees who can respond maturely when confronted with unexpected challenges.

Employees who use creative problem-solving skills to find new solutions for unexpected hurdles are more likely to thrive in challenging work environments, and employers know it. That is why many of the world’s top organizations, such as Google and 3M allow employees to spend up to 20% of their work hours doing whatever they want.

In Planet Entrepreneur, author Steve Strauss calls attention to the fact that the growth of many corporate giants, including Apple, Intel, Lockheed-Martin, Toyota, and as mentioned earlier Google and 3M, was dependent on their employees entrepreneurial mindset.5

It was an entre-employee at 3M who accidentally discovered Post-it notes by playing with adhesives, and it was entre-employees at Google who developed Gmail and Google News.

Why the Temp-Employee Class is Growing Exponentially

While the upper class continues to grow linearly, the bottom class continues to grow exponentially. There were more people below the poverty line in the U.S.6 and U.K. in 2015 than any other year since 1959.

That’s right—more people are in poverty today in many of the world’s most developed countries than ever. In the U.K., the number of people living in poverty is now over 21% and climbing.7

On top of this, more people are underemployed than ever before. In 2016, 51% of Millennials report being underemployed, compared to 41% in 2013. What’s happening?

People who refuse to be entre-employees will be left behind, no matter how much they want to better their lives. Consider this: according to Marketdata Enterprises, during the recession of 2008, English-speaking countries spent more than $11 billion on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs.8 This is 13.6% more than they spent in 2005.

The latest forecasts show that this growth will continue through 2020, and not just in the U.S. and the U.K. Countries like China and India have started to dive deeply into the personal development industry.9 Yet, despite the billions spent on self-help, current numbers show that most people are less happy today than they were in 2011.10

In fact, one study shows that most people are less happy today than they were 30 years ago.11 Other research also shows that people are growing up less mentally tough and resilient than they used to be and that the average person is having less fun now than he used to at work.12 Why is all of this self-help not helping?

The temp-employee class is growing exponentially (and helplessly) for two reasons. First, temp-employees do work they don’t enjoy and never start anything of their own. As a result, they are perpetual dependents.

Instead of owning anything of value in their life, such as a broad knowledge base, a deep network, and a diverse skill set, they remain completely dependent on others for their success and happiness. Second, they spend all their time, energy, and money (especially money they don’t have) trying to derive a sense of ownership from material objects and other people.

A survey of 2,500 people showed that 87% of people are happier living with fewer possessions.13 Yet very few people are opting to live with less. The reason so many people are unhappy is that they are stuffing their lives full of useless possessions and unhealthy relationships. Credit card debt is on the rise again with the average household owing more than $7,000.14

Finding Creative Ownership in Entre-Employment

Ownership creates happiness and employees who engage in entrepreneurial pursuits have a greater sense of purpose than any other category of worker.

Ownership is what makes people feel engaged in their work and their lives outside the office.

Scientific research shows that, without a sense of ownership, people are more likely to quit what they are doing. In fact, people without a sense of ownership are more likely to quit on life. One scientific study showed that early retirees who completely lose their sense of ownership and purpose are 65% more likely to die before the age of 60 than those who do not retire early.15

The only way to avoid disengagement in your work (and maybe even an early death) is to avoid becoming a permanent temp-employee and instead, enter the world of entre-employment.

Entre-employment, or the relationship between entrepreneurship and employment in your own life, can take several forms. You can build up your business while you’re at your current job and then jump ship once your business is self-sustaining.

You can make a personal project profitable and then cut a deal with your employer so that both they and you benefit from it. You can negotiate a deal with a new company that allows you to run your own consulting company or small business while working for them. These are just a few of many possible examples.

As long as you stay transparent and creative, you and your employer can benefit from this new entre-employee model.


1. Pofeldt, E. (2013) ‘US entrepreneurship hits record high’. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/elainepofeldt/2013/05/27/u-sentrepreneurship-hits-record-high/#16b0d6451d79

2. Payne, C. (2016) ‘UK entrepreneurial performance at all-time high, according to index’. London School of Business and Finance. http://www.lsbf.org.uk/blog/news/enterpreneurs-startups/ukentrepreneurial-performance-all-time-high-index/108372

3. Miller, D. (2009) ‘No more dreaded Mondays: Ignite your passion and other revolutionary ways to find your true calling at work’. https://www.amazon.com/No-More-Dreaded-MondaysRevolutionary/dp/0307588777

4. ‘Most millionaires are self-employed’. AskMen.com. http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/money/becoming-a-millionaire_5.html

5. Strauss, S. (2013) Planet Entrepreneur. John Wiley & Sons. https://www.amazon.com/Planet-Entrepreneur-EntrepreneurshipBusiness-Success/dp/1118789520

6. Basic statistics. Talk Poverty. https://talkpoverty.org/basics/

7. Gov.uk. ‘Households below average income: 1994/95 to 2014/15’ https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-belowaverage-income-199495-to-201415

8. PRWeb. ‘$10.4 Billion self-improvement market survives scandals & recession’. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/1/prweb10275905

9. MinistryofTofu. ‘Help yourself China: The rise of self-help culture and its unique Chinese features’.   http://www.ministryoftofu.com/2012/04/help-yourself-china-the-rise-of-self-help-culture-and-itsunique-chinese-features/

10. Yang, M. (2013) ‘Poll: Americans are less happy now than they were in 2011’. Time. http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/06/02/pollamericans-are-less-happy-now-than-they-were-in-2011/

11. Reuters. (2007) ‘Americans less happy today than 30 years ago: study’. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-happiness-usaidUSL1550309820070615

12. HuffingtonUK. (2013) ‘Resilient youth: Using psychology to prevent a lost generation’. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/edpinkney/psychology-to-prevent-lost-generation_b_3372057.html

13. Alexander, S. and Ussher, S. (2011) ‘The voluntary simplicity movement: A multi-national survey analysis in theoretical context’. http://simplicityinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/TheVoluntary-Simplicity-Movement-Report-11a.pdf

14. Grant, K. (2014) ‘Rising credit card debt may dampen holiday budgets’. CNBC. http://www.cnbc.com/2014/09/11/rising-credit-carddebt-may-dampen-holiday-budgets.html

15. Tsai, S. et al. (2005) ‘Age at retirement and long-term survival of an industrial population: prospective cohort study’. BMJ. 331:995. http://www.bmj.com/content/331/7523/995

This is an edited extract from The Science of Intelligent Achievement: How Smart People Focus, Create and Grow Their Way to Success, by Isaiah Hankel Ph.D (Capstone, January 2018).   

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Entre-Employee & Temp-Employee Are The Only Career Options Left

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