Encouraging entrepreneurship is a challenge for governments across EMEA and indeed around the world. The temptation in that discussion can be to focus on the challenges, but in my view we need to give equal weight to the opportunities.
Sometimes in the focus on risk, the discussion around entrepreneurship fails to emphasise the immense possibilities and benefits attached to setting up your own company. And those benefits are not just for the individual, but for society at large.
When Michael Dell spoke at Web Summit this week in Dublin he recalled starting his business in his dorm room at university with $1000 and growing it into the company that exists today. He inspired a packed room of entrepreneurs from across the world to ‘dream big’.
At Dell, we believe entrepreneurs and the jobs they create are the engines driving the global economy. They create 70-90 percent of net new jobs – an important factor to consider when one notes the 600,000 jobs the world needs by 2020 to maximise the opportunities of the "next billion era." That’s a time in which a billion people will gain access to better education, healthcare and technology, and fully participate for the first time in the global economy.
Entrepreneurship needs to move out of the realm of exceptionalism where we talk about high risk of failure, to become something that a much wider range of people contemplate at all stages of their careers.
Across Europe, the tradition of the family business is a strong one. For generations, people have gone out on their own, setting up their stall with their name over the door and welcoming customers who go on to support the business over many years.
Many critical elements remain the same for any business, but what makes the startups of today different is technology. We know that startups that use tech effectively create twice as many jobs, are more productive and profitable than those that don’t. Developments in technology are also driving down the costs of setting up a business in the first place and are making it possible to scale with an ease that could only have been imagined a few years ago.
At Web Summit, it was clear that European entrepreneurs are thinking in global terms rather than regional ones, and it’s great to see that shift happening. Where the first mover advantage is critical, a business can no longer afford to grow incrementally. With access to capital and an innovative business model, what was a great idea in Ireland yesterday can become an indispensable tool to a business in the US overnight.
That is not to say challenges don’t exist – they do: we need to make sure access to capital is straightforward and that talent pipelines are in place to support expansion. Immense opportunities also exist, and for the entrepreneurs attending Michael’s talk at Web Summit with big dreams of their own, anything and everything is possible.