The Economist World Economy report – my challenge

November 24th, 2010 → 1:51 pm @

The Economist magazine ran a report on the World Economy – and I felt motivated to write to the Editor. [sorry I can’t link to the article as it’s behind the Economist paywall]

In your special report on the world economy (Oct 9), you provided a typically interesting discussion of the issues.  However, your articles seemed trapped in the unique economists’ view of workers as ‘factors of production’. The Beveridge curve may have been relevant when most employment, and most growth in employment came from jobs on offer in large corporations.  But considerable change in the labour market has occurred over the last forty years, and your analysis of the situation does not seem to recognise that.

I refer to the fact that entrepreneurship is now a major driver of new jobs.  In his blog post “Startups or Behemoths: Which Are We Going To Bet On” Vivek  Wadhwa quoted the US Kauffman Foundation saying  that “From 1977 to 2005, existing companies were net job destroyers, losing 1 million net jobs per year. In contrast, new businesses in their first year added an average of 3 million jobs annually.”

If jobs are dependent on startup entrepreneurs, then the “lack of job openings” which you describe as “one obvious reason why American workers are taking longer to escape from unemployment”, is perhaps not the issue.  The issue may well be, where are the startup entrepreneurs?

Your report finishes with a plea for the rich world to embark on a broader economic overhaul, and suggests a couple of policy changes. But changing the retirement age is also a red-herring.  Getting the ‘factors of production’ to produce for longer may give GDP a boost, but it won’t introduce significant new, real wealth to replace the ‘wealth’ which was wiped out over the last few years.

Only entrepreneur-led innovation can do that.

The bogus wealth created by financial sleight-of-hand has thankfully been reduced.  Let’s get entrepreneurs creating innovations which produce new products, better products, more efficient processes, and so on… things which create sustainable growth.  That’s better than returning to financial parlour tricks, or to throwing money at the dying behemoths.

Norman Evans

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Economic Development &Entrepreneurship

Losing the Plot – stopping feuding founders

November 22nd, 2010 → 3:58 pm @

The makeshift boardroom
Image by andrew k via Flickr

I’m sitting in an airport lounge, musing on the behaviours of entrepreneurs (nothing new there!).

I’ve been meeting with a group of entrepreneurs who have worked together for several years to build a company.

They started as friends with common goals, proven skills, and established businesses behind them.  But, over the last few years something changed in their relationships.  Their goals began to move apart and, instead of discussing their differences, they became suspicious of each other’s motives and commitment to the company.

The Global Financial Crisis made the situation worse.  They became very operationally focused as they fought to keep the business profitable, and each founder focused more and more on his areas of responsibility.  They stopped discussing strategy and goals, and focused only on systems, processes, structure, and current profitability.

What to do when founders clash

Thus we found ourselves sitting round a table, trying to find a way forward.  It became clear very quickly that one founder was committed to a direction which was incompatible with the others’ goals.  And they hadn’t dealt with their differences decisively because they didn’t want to make the relationships worse.  (more…)

Entrepreneur behavior &Entrepreneurship &Mentoring entrepreneurs

Global Entrepreneurship Week begins

November 16th, 2010 → 4:39 pm @

This week millions of people across six continents again join the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Week.   They will share new ideas, embrace innovation and seek better ways of doing things within their businesses.

Global Entrepreneurship Week was launched in 2008 when Kauffman Foundation and Enterprise UK decided to provide young minds with the platform to prove their entrepreneurial calibre and turn their ideas into reality. Since its creation, around 10.65 million people from 102 countries have participated in entrepreneurial related activities.

This year, the Week runs from November 15-21 and 103 countries are participating in the event, each running a campaign tailored to their audience and geographic milieu.

New Zealand’s participation and celebration of the GEW 2010 is concentrated towards entrepreneurship in

  • Sports,
  • Clean technology,
  • Women and entrepreneurship,
  • Entrepreneurship in the Creative sector
  • Social entrepreneurship.

The launch event will feature a panel of discussion including entrepreneur of the year Tim Alpe, of Jucy Rentals and Sam Morgan, founder of Trade Me. Further information regarding the list of event held in New Zealand can be found here.

I hope that this platform helps the new age of young entrepreneurs acquire knowledge, skills and networks needed to grow innovation and help bring positive impact on the corporate community and society as a whole.  I’m sending some of my clients along to the Wellington event.

Are you getting involved?  Tell me how.

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Entrepreneurship &Fast Growth Companies &Start ups

Sharing the wealth

November 15th, 2010 → 3:58 pm @

At the NZ Angel Association conference in Nelson last week, some investors ruefully commented that many of their investments seemed more like charity.  But none complained about the ‘social-good’ element inherent in supporting new entrepreneurs and new businesses.

The challenge

Then, over dinner, a couple of successful investors talked about the money and time they were putting into assisting the poor and disadvantaged (I have a dream and  Jasmine )… and challenged the rest of us to join in.

The reaction of the room was uniformly positive.

I wasn’t surprised, as I knew that many of those present were quietly sharing their wealth already. But it did make me think about values.

What values should an Entrepreneur have?

Do we focus only on creating wealth, and risk having a tier of wealthy people controlling all the resources while most having nothing?  Or, do we focus on sharing the wealth, and risk having the wealth-creators give up (as they did in the Soviet Union for many years)?

I favour a culture which embraces the wealth-creation of entrepreneurs and investors but provides them recognition for what they’ve shared (both money and time) rather than for how much money they’ve made.  So, I was very pleased to see the Angels applauding the good works of their peers, rather than the financial success which allowed them to be so generous.

It’s important to recognise the moment when the entrepreneur finally gets a big payday, after years of effort and risk.  But the measure of the entrepreneur’s character is, “What do they do next?”

It seems to me that more and more successful entrepreneurs and investors are choosing to give back their time and money rather than just retiring to the beach.  We should applaud them for that, and create a society which rewards both wealth-creation and wealth-sharing.

Angel funding &Entrepreneurship

Book Launch party photos

November 12th, 2010 → 4:00 pm @

We gave the book its first public airing to the Dunedin business community last week.

Having had my arm twisted by Rebecca, I agreed to having a cupcake tier as the centrepiece and I must admit, it looked good, particularly with the book at the top of the pile.

The newspaper gave me a nice write-up as well.

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Entrepreneurship