How to Create Irish Entrepreneurs – Entrepreneurship is About Action


Inertia – underwater sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor

Every place and everyone is trying to create entrepreneurs. It is a contest of sorts. The thinking is – If only we can create the next Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, all of our problems will be solved. Delegations from different parts of the US and other countries are crawling all over the Silicon Valley trying to find the magic potion to create entrepreneurs.

In the last week I have received email invites to help create entrepreneurs in Ohio, Kansas and Brazil. Other places have sent announcements stating they are now an entrepreneurship powerhouse. These include New Jersey, Nigeria (No, not the Prince looking for my credit card number) and Turkey.

From Ireland, not so much email about entrepreneurship, which is good because email is well, just email and it doesn’t mean too much in the heap of missives that we all receive.

Entrepreneurship is about actions, not emails.

The Wall Street Journal is in on the act, in a recent article by Barbara Haislip asking, “How do you get kids ready to become entrepreneurs?” According to the article, we need to instill the traits of being adventurous, dependable, observant, being a team player, and to lead by example if we want our kids to become rich entrepreneurs. All good thoughts and inspirational to be sure. But when it comes to Ireland, I have more pointed advice when it comes to developing entrepreneurs.

At the risk of ruffling some feathers, and in the language that entrepreneurs appreciate, here is the first what Irish entrepreneurs need to do or continue to do:

Grow Some Balls (a message for both men and women): Sure it’s hard to leave the University or a cushy job to start something but your idea will never come to fruition without taking a risk. Earlier in his career, when he was more brash than he is today, Steve Jobs was a guest at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I was there when he asked the assemblage, “How many of you think you are entrepreneurs?” Just about everyone raised a hand. His response was, “That’s bullshit because if you were really entrepreneurs, you wouldn’t be here.”

Every big company has engineers who keep the really good idea in a special secure part of the laptop or in the lower desk drawer secret file never to be shared. Every pastry chef and the service people who are part of the hospitality industry knows how to create a better company than the one they are working for. Every consultant has a list of companies he or she would start once out of the rat race and travel of consulting. Every university faculty member sees graduate students who have a great idea that gets hidden in a dissertation. Every one wants to be their own boss but they take orders from the current boss.

The biggest impediment to entrepreneurship in Ireland is inertia. In a world that is rife with cost reductions and lots of despondent people, the last thing any one wants to do is rock the boat by starting something new. It is just easier to stay put and know your health insurance will be covered, especially when everyone tells you to be patient and don’t do anything crazy.

Tell that to all those who took the risks, and started Intel, Apple, Facebook and all the rest. So get out there. As my entrepreneurial neighbor told me yesterday, “Some people have jobs and some people want to make money and save the world.” How about at least saving Ireland?

Next one is: The Irish Fear of Failure.

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5 thoughts on “How to Create Irish Entrepreneurs – Entrepreneurship is About Action

  1. Hi Phil,The banks may not have much money but there is plenty you can do to build up a business by boot-strapping without the help of any of the banks….

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  2. I’d agree that it does take a lot ofconfidence and dedication to become a entrepreneur. A lot of myfriends think the fact that i’m self employed means i can take a dayoff whenever I link, which is technically speaking true, but thereality is I almost never take anytime off! The dedication requiredto run your own business is huge, but I think so are the rewards.In terms of confidence, I think there is a lot that could bedone by govt and by society to support start ups. The currentsituation where if i go out of business tomorrow i’m not entitled toany benefits is a scandal. I think it is a major barrier toentrepreneurs and innovation in Ireland. It simply adds to the fearof failure. But that would be easy to change. The societal aspect isdifferent. Its well documented that in the States failure is simply astep towards eventual success, and all good entrepreneurs generallyfail twice or three times before becoming a success. Here you arestigmatised for failing, not encouraged to try again! We havea huge amount of talent in this country, we should be assisting themin every way we can

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  3. Ideas fuel entrepreneurs which in turn fuel economies.I think more could be done by way of nurturing not just startups but the entrepreneurs themselves. Too many people believe education is confined to the four walls of a school classroom, nothing could be further from the truth.People learn from each other, even more so when we believe in the same things as each other and therefore have a common perspective to look at. At that stage we simple just put words in each others mouths.The goal with developing entrepreneur based economies is to make these people become more Jesus like entities, the community guru or enlightened neighbour. Holy men whom walk along side the street sweeper or little old lady asking what it would be that would possibly make their lives easier or happier. Mass market is the objective at the end of the day.As you said, get out there and learn, ask questions of not just success but failure… I mean Steve jobs or Bill Gates were not made so by pondering the workings of Carnegie or Ford, instead they thought of the little people they were aiming to build products for.Understand your customer not the seller. Your objective as an entrepreneur is to quite simply beat the seller so why do what he does.Never stop looking for new ideas as one idea fuels another and then another.. quite soon you have a refined vision for a viable business or brand.Above all else be honest, have faith in yourself and of course the good cause we all adhere to.As we’re all looking to the stars for answers and not around us in the world we live, its quite obvious most people just aren’t cut out to be entrepreneurs. It doesn’t require a complete culture and social change.              

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