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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Friday, April 16, 2004
A Business Friendly Europe
Loic, a Frenchman, has started a very interesting discussion about creating a business friendly Europe. It gives critical insight for American readers. Loic says that Europe does not currently have enough entrepreneurs, and he calls for change:
"The entrepreneurs who are successful in the US are often considered as heroes. In Europe, most of them hide themselves because success is not something you can show to the same extent, because many people around them start to become jealous.

The image of European entrepreneurs must change. They are creative, they take risks, they create jobs, they put their life and family at risk to start their businesses.

Europe needs more entrepreneurs."
His theme has been picked up and expanded by other European entrepreneurs.

Victor Ruiz, from Spain, expands further with the Spanish view of entrepreneurs (his weblog is in Spanish, so I am translating his words into English):
"In Spain, the desired job is that of the civil servant: a job for life, without much risk. According to the monthly CIS surveys, one of the greater problems perceived by our [Spanish] society is unemployment....

The rates of unemployment in the U.S.A. are very low, and it is customary to move around and change jobs periodically. The Americans do not think that they will have a job forever and they always aspire to more, or at least to something different. American workers are dynamic. Due to the Spanish labor situation, I am convinced that the perception in this country is also changing in that sense, although the current situation is perceived as a bad one.

And due to our culture, the current situation really is a bad one: our way of life pushes to us to independence, to marry and to buy a house. In order to buy a house, aside from guarantees, the banks ask for a stable position. Without a stable position, there is no house, there is no family and there is no independence. In other countries the need to buy a house is not as great, and therefore mobility comes more easily.

Europe must change its thinking, not only about entrepreneurs, but about jobs."
Torsten, from Germany, makes this observation about German entrepreneurship:
"I fully agree with Loic, I think the key for more entrepreneurial activity in Europe is to raise the image of entrepreneurship and to build a society that rewards taking risks. For me this is the biggest difference between US and Europe. People in Europe have to deal with a much smaller risk exposure as they grow up. This is true for positive as well as negative sides of risks. Once people start a job the notion to change and start on your own is more limited. *** Another difference you learn from US is that many people you meet count business as a kind of hobby. Ask German or French folks and if you hear business or even economics you'll be a lucky one."

Sometimes you can best see your own country through others' eyes. These views from France, Spain and Germany about entrepreneurship are very enlightening. At a time when Big Media seems to report only that the world hates and reviles the U.S., these articles suggest that the U.S. may be doing a few things right. :)

Yet, even in the U.S. we have millions of Americans who do not wish to be entrepreneurs -- ever! They prefer a steady job over starting or running their own business. That will always be true for some people, no matter where they are located.

Indeed, a strong business ecosystem needs businesses of all sizes, especially large ones that support the existence of small businesses through (a) purchasing the products and services of small businesses, and (b) employing affluent employees who also purchase from small businesses. That means some significant part of the population must consist of employees working at those large businesses. So, there is a place and need for every type, in every country.

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