Business Training Wheels

The New York Java Consultant (Solomon Duskis) notes that we seem to be starting businesses pretty young in Ireland. That's quite ironic since all the “I sold stuff as a kid before I made my millions” stories that I've ever read in business books have always been American stories. It's kind of an archetype: young American male with nothing but guts starts business against the odds and makes it big. And of course he earned his stripes selling lemonade and cookies.

Maybe it's a sign of the times — we're just starting to develop the do-your-own-thing mentality over here. For so long in Ireland, the pinnacle of success was a civil service job with a state pension. And just maybe you could be a doctor if you were really good. Most people with any sense left the country (of course, they're all back now starting companies!). I think it's not just about the economic climate — it's about a psychology of liberation. You need to give yourself permission to succeed. Note that I said succeed, not fail. Irish people have been giving themselves permission to fail for far to long. Success, on the other hand, is scary.

And it is true that lots of young people in Ireland are quite open to starting businesses, straight out of school or college. Last year I was on a business startup program, and there were two graduates on it. It makes sense to have a go at starting a business at that age — nothing to hold you back.

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