I recently had conversations about sex work with a couple of friends and we were debating on its moral rightness, with reference being made incessantly to religious scriptures. My sister had also been asking me to write a post about the moral rightness of prostitution and why it should be legalised. But what does morality even mean? Who gets to define it? Why do they have the mandate to do so? Way too much headache for my little head.
So I decided to take a rather unusual route to analyse the profession of sex work. Very often, we struggle to define the word ‘entrepreneur’ without throwing in Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Fred Swaniker, Strive Masiyiwa, Tony Elumelu, etc. We often overlook the fact that there are more entrepreneurs than we know. Sex workers are also entrepreneurs. They create something out of nothing. They may not create JOBS, but they create A JOB. They—at least the successful ones—are also more business-savvy than we give them credit for.
Sex workers are active producers/salespeople.
Right now, most businesspeople are trying to understand the intricacies of marketing in order to use it as a tool to simply lure customers to purchase their product or service. That’s a good thing to do, but it becomes a noose around the neck when they depend solely on that.
Successful sex workers don’t wait for their customers to come to them; they dress up, make up, and show up. The ones who stand by the roadside are still learning the ‘tricks of the trade’. The professional sex workers already have a hardcover phonebook of clients and can make a ‘booking’ from the comfort of their bed and make a ‘sale’ later on in the evening, earning much more in a day than some white-collar businesspeople make in a month.
Sex workers are masters at profit maximisation
Most working people are familiar with the concept of P.A.Y.E. (pay as you earn). This is basically a euphemism for having your income slashed as a result of paying monthly taxes. We all need to be good citizens by filling the already-full pockets of the thieves who sit in high-ranking political positions, don’t we? But that’s a conversation for another day.
But guess whose income isn’t taxed? Yes, you guessed it. SEX WORKERS! This is why the government and law enforcement agencies hate them so much. They are unable to dip their greedy hands into the sex workers’ pockets (not literally, of course). So this whole business concept of ‘profit after taxation’ is as foreign to prostitutes as Latin is to me. Sex workers enjoy full profits.
They understand the ‘hustle’
Prostituting is not an easy thing to do, don’t get it twisted. I’ve heard stories of young women, and men, who took to sex work simply to be able to fend for their families, to pay their way through school, to raise money to pay for the treatment of a loved one and so on. It’s a profession driven mostly by pain, sorrow and want. So it’s very easy to complain or “want to quit”, but most sex workers fully understand this cliché-but-meaningful principle of ‘doing what you have to until you can afford to do what you love.’ They keep pushing. They grind! Literally and metaphorically. They are prepared for the incessant hustle of this commodity-driven world. Are you?
Their work is driven by innovation
Yes, I said ‘innovation’. What drives innovation? Competition, isn’t it? That’s the stuff capitalism is built on. The philosophy of inducing innovation by creating competition. That’s also what sex work is built on. There are so many sex workers out there, and for one to ‘stand out of the flock’, they need to outdo the others in their locale. From minor innovations such as wearing a glittery dress (on the roadside at 3am) while others wear black to more complex innovations such as creating buy-one-get-one-free business model. Prostitution will only keep getting more and more sophisticated as more people take to the profession. How can we learn from them and begin to innovate in our own business spaces to outdo our competition and gain more market share? Eyy, don’t look at me; that’s a conversation you need to have with your cofounders and executives…bye.
Sex workers consistently apply the ‘stickiness factor’
I first learnt about the stickiness factor from Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”, and I thought to myself: Yo, Arinzé, this s**t is as complex as f**k. It’s easy to read, but how do you apply it? Well, that’s until I began to think about how easily sex workers get this. In the most simple words, the stickiness factor talks about getting people to come back for more. Can you now see what the sex workers did there? I thought so.
Successful sex workers are those who have a lot of customers. Not surprisingly, over 80% of those would be the ones who got away, but can’t get enough. That’s why prostitutes strive to leave a mark on their customers to create a culture of loyalty, to make themselves stick in the minds of these customers. This spares them the trouble of having to ‘conquer new grounds’, although that’s still not a bad thing.
They generate immense wealth for the shareholders
It is argued that the main purpose of any business is to create wealth for its shareholders; basically to make the owners rich! For most businesses, there are multiple (in some cases, even hundreds of) shareholders. So when the company makes a profit, it has to be shared among all those owners who each receive dividends. Guess how long it’ll take for them to recover their initial investment? Well, long enough. But in the case of sex workers, they are almost always the only shareholders. So they are not only masters of profit maximisation, but also wealth retention. They recover initial investment in almost always one day. C’mon, these people are businesspeople on steroids! Applause, applause!