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.