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Published on 10 de December, 2018 at SMEs

Rethinking support for entrepreneurship

By Francesc Quintana
5 min read

Talking about entrepreneurship is fashionable, to the point that educational institutions and public administrations have taken over this concept. As a socially dominant discourse, it generates interest and the media echoes.

Public administrations also opt for this speech and, despite some critical voices, the truth is that local government put expectations in their public services by specialized technical personnel who provides supports to anyone who wants to take this pace.

Why is it a dominant discourse?

Right now, we can question how entrepreneurship is being supported, but we do not find any public responsible or referral that denies the importance of undertaking. This is a reflection of the changes that are occurring in the productive system, how it is organized and how it works. In fact, today companies have difficulties in signing fore life job contracts with their workers. Nowadays, no one thinks of entering to work in a company “for life” as it used to happen. We must be continually training and recycling professionally so as not to lose work. Only jobs with low professional qualifications escape this pressure – however, they have others, such as automation. This context has causes that indicate a great complexity and, in fact, since the end of the last century, authors like Manuel Castells, Peter Drucker, Richard Sennett, Saskia Sassen, Richard Florida, Kenichi Ohmae or Henry Chesbrough – among many others – They have already discussed the root causes that create this new framework.

In this context, self-employment is an alternative that appears strongly: create your own place of work, start your own business, re-invent your job. Even further: take the reins of your own destiny, reinvent yourself and control your future, train yourself and take over because you can achieve what you propose, etc.

What is the support that is effectively provided to the entrepreneur?

We can enter the web of any city council of a medium and see that there a great homogenization exists services that are offered:

  • Support for administrative procedures for the creation of a company
  • Training: how to create your company, how to consolidate it, how to make the business plan and evaluate its viability
  • Legal guidance on possible legal formulas
  • Repurchase service, for business transmission
  • Taxation and financing

Services offered are especially aimed at those who want to start a business, a professional or artistic activity on their own or rethink their business towards a new job opportunity. Personalized accompaniment, tailored training programmes to improve skills for entrepreneurs and often also the possibility of networking between companies and professionals are offered also. It is worth noting the Xarxa Emprèn website, the portal of the Catalan Government that provides support resources for the entrepreneur. In addition, some entrepreneurial support services offer training in creativity, prizes and recognitions are also organized or physical spaces are offered to host the start of the activity (incubators, coworking spaces).

We believe that these services reach middle-aged people who have to change jobs (by change of residence, by will to change his professional career, among others) and unemployed people over 50. However, it is much more difficult to reach a younger audience, digital and self-taught, multimedia and multichannel, quick wins lovers, the social profiles recognized as millennials.

To conclude this assessment, it is worth mentioning that traditional training methods are focused on the elaboration of the business plan. Moreover, entrepreneurship supporters choose to expect a person with difficulties to approach the municipal offices, lacking the desire to go out to find the entrepreneur. These support services are hardly conceptualized from a proactive attitude. So, what is the way to rethink entrepreneurship support services? What to offer from a public service to the enterprising person of the 21st century?

How can we be more effective?

Firstly, an evaluation on the obtained outcome in recent years in the promotion of entrepreneurship should be started, among other measures. However, in order to achieve more impact, it would be necessary:

  • Implement new pedagogical and training methods to train the entrepreneur
  • Seek alliances and collaborations with educational centres and entities that work with young people in non-formal education, co-designing imaginative formulas to favour the acquisition of entrepreneurial attitudes
  • Assume that entrepreneurship is an attitude, not an accumulation of knowledge that must be applied. This vision should condition the way in which the professionals support the entrepreneurship process.
  • Communicate better
  • Monitor the latest trends in entrepreneurship support that are detected internationally and apply them
  • Act with a facilitating role, working to create contexts in which the different actors involved in the entrepreneurial process can develop their maximum potential collaborating between them, building networks: entrepreneurs’ meetings, conferences with consolidated companies aiming to incorporate talent, among others.

It is essential to work in a transversal vision within public bodies supporting entrepreneurs: without a positive attitude and aligned with the needs of the organization, no change towards improvement is possible. What would these attitudes be?

  • Ability to invent your day-to-day work, you need creativity. The results must be established by the organization, but the professional who works in the entrepreneurship support office must have a high margin of discretion in order to do their daily work
  • Attitude to active listening and detection of the needs of users of entrepreneurship support services, adapting the standardized service portfolio when necessary so as to bring value and territorial specialization
  • Going out of the public offices and searching for alliances with companies, educational centres and non-profit entities to create collaborative environments in which it is easier to undertake

In short, these guidelines can be considered as guides for the reformulation of the entrepreneurial services of any public entity. Regardless of whether we are talking about a city of 8,000, 15,000 or more than 50,000 inhabitants, measures can be adapted with more or less intensity and will require a work plan that to influence the way professionals do their work in order to reach new audiences and to provide a better service.

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