Being an entrepreneur is a tough job: you must know the size and characteristics of the field/industry where you would like to sell your products/services, know your competitors (at local, regional, national and international level), design the annual budget taking into account potential sudden changes of plan due to unforeseen events, select your collaborators, manage them, encourage them, reward them, supervise them. You have to keep yourself informed about technical, commercial, financial events happening in and around your market(s) of interest, sign alliances or collaboration agreements with other individuals or companies, keep a healthy cash flow, promote your products/services with marketing campaigns suitably designed and timely launched, etc.
By reading all above, you could recognise that most of the tasks described above are the same as those that any C-level executive in large corporate or Head of Unit in other organisations is requested to do on daily basis. That’s correct: the only difference is that entrepreneurs have to carry them out by risking their own money. A mistake, a wrong decision, an unsatisfactory business partnership means losing money, sometimes (often) personal money, which is an aspect those who are employed do not understand or consider. If an employee – no matter the role in the company’s hierarchy – makes a wrong move, takes a wrong decision, s/he can be reprimanded, get a smaller or no bonus at the end of the year, could have his/her promotion delayed, but they can still get a salary every month.
For entrepreneurs, the situation is different: they can be heavily affected by mistakes, late payments, they can be requested to return a debt with banks and use their own personal money if there is not cash flow available in that moment, they could be forced to give up paying their own salary to pay their employees’ and so on.
That’s my concern: when new business ideas request loans and grants the applications are usually assessed by people who are employed and that don’t know how hard it is generating new businesses. After the deep economic and financial crisis occurred 10 years ago, banks have become much more reluctant in approving loans whereas other financial organisations scrutinise the business ideas in (too many?) details often without having a clue about how specific markets work in the domestic environment or, even worse, internationally.
Talking with many peers I have realised that doing business in Europe is very complicated: a lot of red tape to deal with and, when it is decided to compete for receiving funding, this means spending a lot of time by filling in pages and pages of detailed descriptions of the business idea that, in the end, could not be convenient if the amount of money awarded is below 25k (GBP of EUR doesn’t make much difference) and the chances of success limited due to the limited amount of funds available.
Are we sure that the future of economy in Europe should be assessed by people that are not used to risk their own money, receive a regular monthly salary and don’t have a clue of what business means in real terms?
EPN Consulting CEO & Founder