You seek Self Employment because you are self aware enough to understand how bad Wage Slavery is for you. And you choose to join a Self Employment Joint Venture because you don’t want to work alone forever, and you are ethical and empathic enough not to subject others to the Wage Slavery you yourself are trying to escape.
It would completely negate this reason for having a Self Employment Joint Venture if anyone contributing to the joint venture does so as an employee. This is the case regardless of whether they are an employee of the joint venture, an employee of one of the self employed contributors, or an employee of some other person or organisation that is controlled by the joint venture or one of the self employed contributors.
The requirement that all contributions to a Self Employment Joint Venture must be from people who are self employed is fundamental to the nature of a Self Employment Joint Venture. This rule must be explicitly stated in the contract that establishes the joint venture, to ensure that the joint venture maintains it’s self employment nature at all times.
None of your colleagues should be able to have an employee (whether theirs or someone else’s) make any part of their contribution for them. If they do, then they have broken the agreement that they made with you. They would be taking away your ability to escape wage slavery without being a slave owner, and tainting your earnings with the spoils of someone else’s wage slavery.
If one of your colleagues refuses to abide by the joint venture agreement they made with you, then you should no longer be required to give them the benefits that come from contributing to the joint venture. You should no longer need to give them a share of profit, or a vote. The joint venture agreement should give you personally the right to make the joint venture cancel their profit share and voting rights, and if necessary you should also have the right to enforce this by suing that colleague in court, either on behalf of the joint venture or on your own behalf.
This raises the question of what should be considered a contribution. If the joint venture pays the phone company for a mobile phone plan, and the phone company has employees (of course), then is the mobile phone plan a contribution made by an employee? Or what if you buy the mobile phone plan on behalf of the joint venture as part of your contribution?
A fundamentalist definition of contribution that would include this phone plan would make things very difficult very quickly. Businesses exist to trade with the broader economy, and unfortunately at the time of writing, most of the broader economy is still made up of businesses that have wage slaves. It might be possible for a Self Employment Joint Venture to succeed by only trading with self employers who themselves only traded with other self employers and so on - and if that’s the case then it might be worth doing. However the vast majority of potential Self Employment Joint Ventures could not succeed under these conditions.
Eliminating those potential Self Employment Joint Ventures would also eliminate the opportunities they would have given their contributors to escape Wage Slavery. Taking an uncompromising approach to the definition of “what is a contribution” would backfire and create a world with less Self Employment, by reducing the number of Self Employment Joint Ventures. Being flexible and choosing a pragmatic definition of contribution that draws a boundary at some point is more likely to rescue more people from Wage Slavery sooner.
One boundary that might make sense to use is Control. The contract could state that no contribution should be made an employee of the joint venture, or by an employee of yourself or your colleagues, or by an employee of any business that the joint venture or you or your colleagues control.
This seems to preserve the spirit of what a Self Employment Joint Venture is about, and who is really part of it and who is not. A phone company employee who sets up your phone plan? Not really part of the joint venture, and it’s not a “contribution”. An employee of a company that your colleague owns who does some work for a customer on behalf of the joint venture? Definitely part of the joint venture and definitely a prohibited contribution by an employee. And your colleague would be forfeiting all their profit share and voting rights by having their employee do this, and you should be entitled to enforce that forfeiture as an agent of the joint venture and in court, without needing the permission of any other colleagues to do so.
One type of control that should be considered by the agreement is sham contracting. This is where a business subcontracts some of it’s work in such a way that the subcontractor is really an employee, rather than an independent business. It’s Wage Slavery dressed up as self employment. No contribution to a Self Employment Joint Venture should be made by anyone who is a sham contractor of the joint venture or of any other party.
One useful indicator (amongst others) as to whether a subcontractor is an independent business might be whether the goods or services they provide to or on behalf of the joint venture are also provided in equal or greater amount to others; for example if the joint venture hires an electrician as a subcontractor to install lighting equipment that the joint venture sells to it’s customers, then whether that electrician is a genuine subcontractor might depend on whether they are doing just as much electrical work for their own customers on a regular basis and are making as much or more money from their own customers as from the joint venture. That would probably indicate they were genuinely self employed, and the joint venture was just one of their customers. If on the other hand the electrician was subcontracted full time to perform installations for the joint venture and had no other customers, then that looks a lot like an employment relationship, and would be sham contracting.
If a Self Employment Joint Venture needs someone to devote a significant portion of their work to it’s business, then that person should probably become a member of the Self Employment Joint Venture. And if that person has a preference for being a Wage Slave instead, then they should probably find a different business to contribute to.
Written by John on 5th October 2020 and last updated 18th October 2020