You can’t manufacture entrepreneurs

If you have ever met this guy, you would agree with me. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, government in Atlantic Canada had the ‘bright’ to encourage unemployed people to start their own businesses and put a number of programs in place to help them do so. The naive thinking was they would create a class of ‘entrepreneurs’ in New Brunswick. 25 years on, we have less ‘entrepreneurs’ – by my definition – than the rest of Canada. What they did was create a class of small business owners with a failure rate of close to 80%.

I could name a dozen real entrepreneurs – guys/gals with a passion to build a business – to take their products national and international. To risk it all. And from an economic development perspective, governments must realize the difference between the guy/gal who wants to run a small lifestyle business and an entrepreneur. I am not complaining about the lifestyle business – far from it but those types of businesses will not lead to growth in the economy. Only those that are exporting products or services (or in some cases import substitution) will lead to economic growth.

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0 Responses to You can’t manufacture entrepreneurs

  1. mikel says:

    I suspect then you mean ‘can’t’ manufacture entrepreneurs. However, it’s unfair to change the definition like that. The government’s aim is obviously to get people off the dole, and even a local pizza parlour does that. Hell, even a home business selling knickknacks online will do that.

    The most unfair thing is that definition of ‘entrepreneur’. Think about it for a second. Most new industries and services are in the knowledge industry and sciences. Anybody with a small business can tell you how much ‘work’ just running a business is. In other words, walking up to an unemployed person with limited skills and saying “think of something to sell and we’ll help you” is an absolute nutty way to try to build small business.

    I know a lot of scientists who are now businessmen, most of them make BAD businessmen, and the work it takes to make it in business turns them into BAD scientists. That’s why universities set up technology centres, because that’s where entrepreneurs come from.

    Entrepreneurial skills are a whole blogsite of its own-I wonder if there are many out there. There are ‘born salespeople’, perhaps like that eight year old Charles interviewed that makes and sells jewelry. But selling is a specific job function, and not many good salespeople end up as entrepreneurs.

    Of course you CAN make entrepreneurs, again, just provide a market. Like I’ve said, you have a television station and buy local content, you WILL find entrepreneurs. People are SO entrepreneurial that they will do what they love for NOTHING-just go look at Youtube. Go look at the number of musicians coming OUT of NB (but not staying in NB).

    Retail has changed, and if you online you can find a LOT of small scale entrepreneurs-even in NB. With changes in retail though, most of those possibilities are gone-I remember sending a letter to the Fredericton Co-Op, a co op that is BARELY a co-op now. It’s embarassing that a co-op brings in clothes made by chinese and mexican slaves the same as any other retailer in the province, yet if you walk through the oromocto mall you’ll meet a whole group of seamstresses who rent a booth because they can’t find a retailer around. That’s SUPPOSED to be what a co-op retailer is all about.

    If you want an entrepreneur, first provide a market-or a service. If government simply providing a networking service to introduce salespeople to innovators,that would go a long way. Computer science and programming is where the big opportunities are, but how many of the unemployed have any of those skills? That’s why I mention the television station, because it builds skills as it employs them. It takes a weekend to learn flash, but less time to learn to work a camera. And like I said, go to youtube and you can see just how much people WANT to be creative-there just has to be an outlet. Recently two youtube tv shows got picked up for syndication, why aren’t there class projects or drama schools producing stuff? Sorry this isn’t edited and is pretty scattered-in a hurry.