Where Does Entrepreneurship Flourish, and Why?

Last week an article was published in Crain’s New York Business online about older entrepreneurs in the United States – older than 55 when they started a business. I was 55 when I opened Bridge Global Strategies, and I was interviewed for the article. It made me think about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, why some people are more apt to be entrepreneurial, and why some countries seem to be easier than others for business startups.

I’ve watched many overseas companies start American subsidiaries, usually with only one or two executives assigned from the home country to the U.S.  The ones who are successful have hearts and minds of entrepreneurs. Most of them are not particularly young, either.

It isn’t as easy to be a successful entrepreneur in some other parts of the world as it is in the U.S. Look at the U.S. biotech industry, where companies have been built on the strength of a single good idea, and consider software startups like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. All were started by individuals with little or no capital.  There are a few other countries that produce more than their share of successful entrepreneurs and some places that just don’t seem to be good environments for entrepreneurial ventures. I was curious about what factors cause some countries to be more hospitable than others to entrepreneurship.  Is it a national mindset, business traditions, government regulations, economic development, lack of stable corporate jobs, or what? I poked around a little online to see what others had to say about this, and I found a non-profit organization online, the Global Entrepreneurship Research Consortium (GERC), that publishes an annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) which reports the status of entrepreneurship around the world.  I highly recommend reading this very compelling report on what is a complex subject.

According to the report, in the U.S. there is more early-stage entrepreneurialism than in EU countries or Japan. Japan has evidently improved as an environment for entrepreneurs in the last few years.  It used to be very tough there for entrepreneurs but now it is at about the same level as the EU countries, according to the GEM report. The report says that the three EU countries with the lowest level of entrepreneurial activities are Belgium, France and Germany. Why? The GERC people don’t exactly know. Is it because people in those countries are less inclined to take risks? Or is it because there are enough attractive positions available there and economic need isn’t as much an incentive as it is in some other places.   The GEM report discusses the factors that make one country more or less favorable an environment for entrepreneurship: economic freedom global competitiveness and the ease of doing business are very important.

The executives from overseas who are assigned to start a U.S. subsidiary are fortunate that the U.S. market has the factors that make it relatively easy to start up a new company. But they themselves have to think like entrepreneurs.  They are the ones here on the ground in the U.S. and only they can make the best decisions about what needs to be done.  Sometimes they have to fight with headquarters staff to move the subsidiary in the proper direction.  Often those battles can be difficult and political and can be risky to their careers. So the type of individual who succeeds here in starting a subsidiary is someone with a very high desire to succeed, a risk-taker, a decisive person, a strong-willed person.

I believe that those are all qualities of entrepreneurs.

– –  Lucy Siegel

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One Response to “Where Does Entrepreneurship Flourish, and Why?”

  1. Julie Cole Says:

    also interesting is the rise in women entrepreneurs – I believe women are starting businesses at twice the rate as men. Great read – thanks Lucy!

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