Working in Norway: What’s your added value?

Have we in Norway (over) enhanced becoming an entrepreneur as the only way to make it in business?

“Value added: describes the enhancement a company gives its product or service before offering the product to customers.” (Investopedia)

Thought of this question today when reading a headline in The Scotsman announcing: Record number of Scots want to start a business.

Why do they want to do this? Many reasons, apparently. However, the survey in question found that “the top three reasons people want to become self-employed are:

  • better work/life balance,
  • a desire to work fewer hours and
  • the belief that you can earn more money than your own boss”

An interesting paradox of the Nordic Model

Would these reasons fly in Norway? Probably not. Most workers here have their work/life balance in place. Many workers are happy with the 37.5 hours they’re on the job if working fulltime, and many take advantage of the opportunity to work part-time (80% is four days a week, 60% three, etc.). Many may feel they earn enough just because they know that because of the flat organizational structure (and tax code), their boss isn’t earning a massive amount more than they are further down the ladder.

Perhaps not surprising then that the percentage wanting to become a ‘gründer’ (the Norwegian term roughly translating to the English ‘entrepreneur’) in Norway is quite low. And yet because of all the country’s social safety net, you’d think that this would be the perfect place to jump off a business cliff, as your parachute would definitely open should you find yourself plunging down into the fjord below.

The dreaded L of J

Could another reason for the low numbers be people’s lack of confidence caused by the notorious Nordic ‘Law of Jante’? (Wiki definition: “a mentality that diminishes individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while simultaneously denigrating those who try to stand out as individual achievers.”) Or is it just too easy for me to point to this old stereotype – haven’t we moved past this in Norway?

All or nothing?

How about this new explanation – the way in which the big winners in the entrepreneurship lottery are pushed on us in story after digital story about their phenomenal success. More power to them, I say, but what about all the people who start out on their own wanting to, well, just start a business and make a decent living? Maybe they’ve gotten the idea that it’s an all or nothing game, and this extreme type of hype makes them not want to play at all?

Can’t a person just want to be like the Scots who want to ‘become self-employed’?

Why all the flashy focus here on becoming an Entrepreneur?

Or am I just hung up on a word?


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