Last Monday I was watching RTE’s Frontline live discussion programme made more enjoyable with the help of Twitter live commenting. As usual the topic had to do with the results of the failing economy, the recession, the financial crisis or whatever the nom du jour is for them mess we find ourselves in. The producers had drummed up a group of unemployed people to provide audience participation and a lot of the comments where along the line of “I have worked hard all my life and now I’ve lost my job and there’s no work for me”. This is complaint heard time and time again on the TV, radio and streets of Ireland. Coming from a family of people who have always started and run their own businesses I believe strongly in the philosophy that if there’s no jobs you just have to make your own. However it was clear from the talking heads on the panel (excluding David McWilliams) that they had no idea or inclination to do so. Hence it was a welcome surprise when someone in the audience piped up with comments that there should be more support for SME level start-ups in a more pro-active, targeted and less bureaucratic way. This person was Eamonn Blaney. His comments centered around small grant aid (25 – 50k)issued through a quick process with a minimum of red tape combined with using the glut of available (empty) office space to create an environment for where lots of start-ups can blossom and become succesful. Not 400-500 as the government suggested as a target but 1000’s of start-ups each year.
However then reality set in. I have been preaching this for over two years myself. See here & here. And I am certainly not the only one. With the Greenhouse I have set out to create an environment in which people with valid ideas would receive all the assistance required to quickly and efficiently turn their idea into a viable business. We’ve set out to counter the trend of lengthy, form heavy business development process that appear only to create a small number of “big champions” by creating a mechanism that can quickly create a large number of “medium size champions” (with hopefully also a few big ones eventually). The process applied is very hands on with active participation in the development of the start-up and it’s product or service.
I have preached the values of the process time and time again to (at this stage) hundreds of people in the public and private sector in Ireland. To what result you might ask? Well too damn little in my opinion. Yes we’ve seen the emergence of a lot of events talking all about how to start your own business but these had more to do with creating revenue for the organisers than actually business & job creation. Follow up support is largely absent from the equation.
So there we are; 3 years into the worst economic & financial crisis that this country has ever seen and we are still only talking about solutions with the only viable suggestions coming from the audience. The Irish government, and largely also the opposition parties are either clueless or incompetent. Rather than address the recession by increasing the amount of money available in the economy they have been consistently sucking it out of the private sector through increased taxation and public sector spending cuts. This money is then put into the black hole that the bank bailouts have become making it dead money. The results of their actions so far are a crippled economy and a society that can only look forward to decades of heavy taxation. And that’s the stalemate that we’re at for months now nothing has improved or even changed and the situation is gradually becoming worse.
So what do we need? I am looking for your suggestions this time as I have a number of ideas of suggestions but would welcome active input from others…