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Awakening the Entrepreneurs

It was during the clean up at a recent fund raising BBQ that I had time to reflect on how much effort had actually gone into effectively starting a small business. The venture raised about $1,000, which was hailed as a success.

But if you consider that some of the materials were donated as was a considerable amount of time by my wife and a core group of “Doer’s”, it was pretty clear that had someone tried to make a living out of this, they would have been working for a fraction of the Minimum wage, and wouldn’t have had the benefit of marketing the business to a captive market by pulling on the heart strings “for a good cause”. There also wouldn’t be any labour laws in place to ensure that a budding entrepreneur was paid enough to provide for living expenses. The novelty of eating left over sausages can only last so long.

The Volunteers still had a successful day, with new friendships made and existing ones strengthen. It is also great networking with people whom you wouldn’t run into in your normal routines of life. It opens your eyes to so many things, including that it seems to be the same people who have the drive to make these things happen each time, usually the ones who have busy lives already. Then there is a large proportion of the benefactors of the funds who seem to be happy to watch what happens (but at least they showed up to support it). There are of course those that missed what  was happening altogether, but the disappointment comes when critics (usually a minority group) complain about for instance the absence of fruit drinks or are quick to have an opinion about how the funds should be spent to benefit them, when they were nowhere to be found when the work needed to be done. Come to think of it, a small scale version of our society, I guess.

No matter what anyone says about creating employment, all that Government can do is to create an environment for business to operate and generate employment to the benefit of all Australians. Want proof? I challenge you to name a single product or service that our Government exports, other than money or resources we give to other countries. Actually, just thought of one – education. Probably one we should have invested in for our own people though. Instead, we try to penalise entrepreneurial risk takers by taxing them at the first opportunity. They are only people like everyone else, yet we make them legally responsible for the actions of anyone they employ and anything the business does.

We have days to commemorate all kinds of things nowadays, some traditional and significant ones (Mothers day, Anzac day etc), and others that are new found causes (which I won’t name, because no doubt I’ll be unintentionally offending the important causes that I omit to mention). But whatever happened to acknowledging the hard working drivers of our economy, the Entrepreneurs and business leaders? Most businesses are started on the smell of an oily rag in a garage or spare bedroom. Usually it involves putting the house on the line, and sacrificing family and other activities. These people are required to navigate a quagmire of rules and regulations, and cover all disciplines involved in running a business, including having leadership and people skills, setting up supply channels and customer agreements, marketing, legal nous etc. Uncompromising enthusiasm to achieve and high energy levels as well as good time management is obviously also a must.

So it comes down to people like you and I and the many others before us who take on the challenges of running and growing businesses. But we need a new supply of people willing to create businesses and jobs. I’d like to suggest we have an Entrepreneurs or Business Innovations day, and encourage more people to give it a go to start up the next generation of ventures. Whilst it has its challenges, I firmly believe that most people could start some form of business, or should at least try if for no other reason than to understand what is involved. What would you do if you had to set yourself the target to make $100 from a new venture, that is, something totally different to how you currently make your money? Whether it’s buying and selling something on eBay or Gumtree, or providing some kind of hourly labour service, there is a lot that goes into establishing a business with little or no capital. I believe nearly all of our population can do this successfully once. The true challenge comes with how many can repeat the success by turning it into a sustainable business and making the income re-occur more and more frequently. Whilst the rewards are there (businesses create more millionaires than any other source of income), these entrepreneurial people deserve recognition and support. Using Margaret Thatchers philosophy, we should be giving people hand ups, instead of creating a society dependent on hand outs.

So why not give it a go and inspire others too? Even if you have been entrepreneurial before, see if you can do it again in today’s environment. Hopefully we can encourage enough people to try it that we see a transition of people from the groups who watched things happen or wondered what the %*$@ happened, to those that make things happen.

As always, onwards and upwards!

Fred Carlsson