Working “9 to 5” Reflections

Feb 23, 2017

The #1 song on Billboard’s popular music chart this week in 1981 was “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton.  Listening to the lyrics of that song as part of a musical recap of the top songs from this week in that year resulted in a personal moment of admiration for what has been achieved by women executives & entrepreneurs in American business during the last 35 years.

One set of lyrics from “9 to 5” that resonated with me during this time of reflection was

“They just use your mind and they never give you credit.”

Stepping back in time, I can only imagine the frustration experienced by the large group of intelligent, knowledgeable, and highly skilled women who contributed to companies, but did not get the recognition, promotion, and compensation they deserved. However, the beauty of the American economic system is that for those who have the skill, knowledge, vision, and risk acceptance no barriers exist to create & execute a business vision as an entrepreneur.   The American entrepreneurial world is generally considered blind to gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.  Philosophically, this is a very attractive attribute to me and one reason I work with entrepreneurs on the purchase & sale of businesses.

Plato said many centuries ago, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”.   This glass ceiling dynamic created an environment that spurred entrepreneurship by women of the 80’s & 90’s who could not achieve their executive management & compensation goals through the traditional corporate path.

As a business broker since 1994, I have had the pleasure of facilitating sales of privately held companies for female entrepreneurs who transitioned from employee to owner starting their own businesses.   I have also facilitated transactions where female executives left the corporate board rooms and purchased privately held companies leading them to heights of revenue, profit, and market recognition previously never achieved.  One venue where strong female entrepreneurship has occurred this century is in the technology & e-commerce space.  One successful entrepreneur in that venue is my cousin, Kim Perell, who recently wrote the following article for ( on the attributes needed by entrepreneurs wishing to take a company from startup to venture capital funding.  Kim is symbolic of what is possible today because of the societal evolution that occurred in the 80’s & 90’s in terms of recognition of female executives as equals to men in industries ranging from construction to manufacturing and technology to professional service.  In many industries, female entrepreneurs were the trailblazers for their sisters in commerce in corporations, because how can a vice-presidency be denied a qualified woman when a competitor, supplier, or customer had a female at its helm.

In her article, Ms. Perell identifies an attribute of entrepreneurs that is also relevant to the song “9 to 5”.   Ms. Perell correctly identifies that “Entrepreneurs work extreme hours…”.  The advantage of being a business owner is that you control your own schedule and set the agenda.  The disadvantage is that the business owner is ultimately accountable for company performance and will need to do what is necessary to facilitate achieving company goals & objectives.   Working “9 to 5” traditionally does not exist for entrepreneurs.   This fact often motivates business owners to sell.   I recall one client that did not take an extended vacation for over twenty years while running her company.   She has since traveled domestically & internationally extensively, including visiting all 50 states in a RV reaping the rewards of her success on the entrepreneurial playing field.   I also encourage corporate executives to seriously think about transitioning from being an employee to an entrepreneur before they make the leap.   Ownership has privileges, it also has serious responsibilities.   Recognition that being at the top of the pyramid in making executive decisions regarding marketing & strategic growth go hand and hand with working long hours, dealing with employee issues, and the evitable “Murphy’s Law” situations.

Ultimately, every entrepreneur must pour themselves “a cup of ambition”, one of my favorite word combinations in the song, “9 to 5”, to be successful as a business owner.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, and mergers & acquisitions community on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.