Building an Entrepreneurial Society in Taiwan

icsb2005.bmpDr. Robert Lai, Director General of Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, MOEA, Taiwan, presented his country’s plan to develop a truly entrepreneurial society. It is a fascinating and comprehensive plan that has much broader implications for many other economies.
To see Dr. Lai’s PowerPoint presentation click here. If your computer doesn’t have PowerPoint, you can download the free PowerPoint Viewer here.

Michael Naughton Speaks on the Good Entrepreneur

icsb2005.bmpDr. Michael Naughton has spoken around the world about the integration of faith and work. I have had the honor and pleasure to write and teach with him about this topic as it relates to entrepreneurship.
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Michael Naughton
Dr. Naughton presented this morning at our conference, talking with us about the different approaches we take to work and leisure and our lives.
For some our work is simply a job. We do it only for the economic rewards. In the world of entrepreneurship I talk about this as “entrepreneurs on steroids.” These are the entrepreneurs who pursue a business venture solely as a financial transaction to be maximized. For many of them their leisure takes to form of amusements meant to serve as a means of escape from the pressures of pursuing the maximum wealth from the deals they pursue. This becomes a state of having over being.
For others, our work is a career. We seek the psychological rewards that work can give us. Entrepreneurs view work as a means to an end — to be their own boss. Leisure is viewed as instrumental for the career. It is a time to rest “to sharpen the saw.” We measure success in terms of achievements. This becomes a state of doing over being.
Finally, for some our work is a calling — a vocation. It is a calling to be human, a calling to a state of life, and a calling to a particular kind of work. Leisure takes the form of contemplation. Life becomes integrated and whole. It is not a state of balance between work and leisure; work and our faith. Rather, they become one as we become what Mike calls a contemplative practitioner.
These three states of work are not mutually exclusive. But, viewing work as a job or a career are just not enough to contain us as a whole person.
(For an outline of Dr. Naughton’s talk click here).
(For a PowerPoint presentation on Dr. Naughton’s talk click here. If your computer doesn’t have PowerPoint, you can download the free PowerPoint Viewer here.
For more information on Michael Naughton’s writing, click here.

International Small Business Lessons

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Ian Levitt left a career in international corporate business to start his automotive parts distribution business named Qualcast in Nashville, TN in 1997. He is still a small business, but has had great success importing and exporting around the world.
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Ian highlighted three of the more difficult challenges he has faced as a small business owner dealing with the international market:
Credit risk. As he began to do business in China, he faced the need to finance large purchases by Chinese customers. He would have to carry their debt until the parts arrived and were weighed and checked. This could mean several weeks to months. Unfortunately, banks view lines of credit on such accounts receivable as too risky to finance even if only for a few weeks. He was able to speed the process along, but had to tie up all of his cash on a single order.
Currency issues. More of his European customers now do business in Euros rather than dollars. This opened him up to significant currency exchange risks. Even as a small business person, he was able to buy a large stake in Euros for twelve months to stabilize his exchange rate.
Credit card fraud. Sadly, credit card fraud is a major issue for international trade, and many clients insist on using credit cards for purchases. Ian said that he can no longer accept credit card orders from his international clients due to the high rate of fraud.
In the middle of our discussions about teaching entrepreneurship and shaping public policy to meet their needs, it was refreshing to hear about the real issues faced by a small business in the international arena from someone in the trenches.
Ian Levitt is active in the Nashville business community helping to support other entrepreneurs interested in the international arena.

Micro Lending is Having an Impact

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John Hatch, Founder of FINCA, says that we are now in the middle of the largest economic expansion in history, and that within the next few years small businesses will become “micro-internationals.”
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Micro lending programs, such as those supported by FINCA, are creating a base new small businesses that will transform the world through a process that Hatch called “globalization from the bottom up.” Micro lending benefits communities by improving education, food and housing.

Public Policy Pre-Conference

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The NFIB and SBA Office of Advocacy sponsored a pre-conference event for ICSB entitled “Global Perspectives on Entrepreneurship Policy.”
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Chad Moutray, Office of Advocacy SBA
The first set of presenters examined the costs and problems of business entry. One of the presenters was Simeon Djankov of the World Bank, who discussed his findings on “Regulation as an Impediment to Entry in Developing Countries.” One of the main barriers to business entry and growth around the world is government regulation of small and medium enterprises. This study and the other presenters provided strong evidence of the impact of regulation on entrepreneurial economic activity. This position was reinforced by a comprehensive report from the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency entitled “Efforts to Reduce Administrative Burdens and Improve Business Regulation.”
The World Bank has issued a full report on the impact of regulations on economic growth: Doing Business in 2005.
A variety of other papers on the importance of education, banking deregulation and freer labor markets to support entrepreneurial development were also presented.
Throughout this pre-conference the themes of get government out of the way and educate entrepreneurs was reinforced through a variety of studies and reports.
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Denny Dennis, NFIB

Entrepreneurship in Australia

icsb2005.bmpOur VIP reception Tuesday night was at the Australian Embassy. The Australian officials spoke about the entrepreneurial spirit of their country and the tradition of small business within their economy. The US and Australians have just signed a free trade agreement (AUSTFA) that is quite favorable to small business.
australia us free trade.jpgWe heard the story of a creative small business idea that has come to the US from Australia, flavored dog water, which has been able to move quickly into the US market in large part as a result of AUSFTA.
“In just twelve months since its flavoured dog water was developed, Dog Plus has scored a lucrative deal with Nutri-Vet who will distribute Dog Plus products to pet store chain PETCO’s 670 stores across the US and Canada,” Mr. Billson said.
“The deal is currently worth $50,000 to the small husband and wife business team and is expected to reach an annual $2 million over the next twelve months, providing not only a tremendous boost for the company but also the local economy by generating additional employment.”

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World Conference on Small Business

icsb2005.bmpI will be posting this week from Washington, DC, where I am chairing the 50th Annual Meeting of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB). There will be over 600 attendees exchanging ideas about both educating entrepreneurs and public policy isssues related to entrepreneurship. I will be sharing some of the highlights of what is presented and discussed at this exciting conference throughout this week.
The International Council for Small Business founded in 1955 is the oldest and largest global membership organization dedicated to examining and discussing issues affecting the teaching, research and delivery of entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprise world-wide. Collectively, the over 2,000 members of the ICSB through their eleven national affiliates work and assist tens of thousands of individual currently in business or desiring to start a business relatively soon.
The leading teachers, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners interested in entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprise are attending this conference. It will have attendees from around the world including Europe, Brazil, Japan, Republic of China, Singapore, Korea, Southern Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Puerto Rico/Caribbean, and the United States.

Swing Easy and Focus

Great advice for any golfer is to swing easy. The harder you try to swing the worse your shots become. The easier you swing, the longer the ball seems to go. It seems like a contradiction, but it is true. The same holds for finding a business idea. Swing easy.
Don’t go for “the next Microsoft” or for a quick “home-run” idea. Find a need, find a niche, and keep it simple.
I have offered many examples and ideas that fit this advice and USA Today has yet another example this week — Brian Scudamore who founded 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is a great story of a drop-out who was not afraid fill a need in a less than glamorous business.
“As an 18-year-old, Scudamore was having a difficult time finding a summer job. While at a McDonald’s drive-through in 1989, he noticed a beat-up truck of a local hauling company.
“‘I said, ‘That’s it!’ ‘ he recalls. ‘I ate my cheeseburger and, within a week, had a business.’
“He bought a truck for $700, placed a newspaper ad that said, ‘The Rubbish Boys will stash your trash in a flash,’ and charged $80 per truckload.”

He grew the business with what he had to work with. His advice to entrepreneurs is to “start your business with your own money.”
Another tip for the average golfer is to keep your head down and your eye on the ball. In a word — focus.
Scudamore created a simple business with a clear plan. He never strayed from his original idea. It worked well so he grew it and continued to make the basic idea a little better. His warning to entrepreneurs is, “Don’t ever try to build a business without a crystal-clear vision.”
A simple idea with a clear vision that he has turned into a franchised business with over 1,000 employees and $72 million in revenues.
Swing easy. Focus.

Summer Reading

National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship offers their suggestions for your summer reading. Here are a couple of their favorites:
A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, by Daniel H. Pink. Riverhead Books, 2005.
This book takes a new look at the impacts of outsourcing, arguing that entrepreneurial growth will come from artists, designers and innovators.
The Past and Future of America’s Economy: Long Waves of Innovation that Power Cycles of Growth, by Robert D. Atkinson. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2004.
“Atkinson argues that we are in the midst of a major technological shift that has only just begun. While economic change is all around us, our political systems and our policy ideas have not shifted in response. Atkinson recommends that policymakers embrace ‘growth economics’, a whole range of policies that nurture entrepreneurship and innovation.”
I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my summer list. It is an $85 book, so you may want to wait for my review in a few weeks. Let’s hope his list of policy recommendations begins with less government involvement….
Check out NDE’s web site for all of their recommendations.