How can we encourage a culture of entrepreneurism?


Entrepreneurism is hard to say and even harder to spell but absolutely essential for our future. 

Just ask the world leaders whose speeches are peppered with this difficult word.  Next week Moscow is host to an international conference for Global Entrepreneurs funded by the Kauffman Foundation in the United States.  Trust me, entrepreneurism is important!

So what can we do as individuals to encourage a culture of entrepreneurism in Australia?

Having just had this discussion with a group of business and professional women in Swan Hill last night, my thoughts are running rampant on this subject and it starts by being aware of some of the psychological barriers.

First, we have to get over this “tall poppy” syndrome so prevalent in Australia.  While we adore an underdog it is a very different playing field when someone is successful in business.  Suddenly they become “greedy” and “publicity seeking.” 

When I asked a successful businessman once what his most significant contribution to the community was (already knowing that he was a very community minded person), much to my surprise at the time he replied: “I provide jobs for people that live in this community.”

Fear of failure is another barrier that we need to overcome. 

Repeat after me:  It’s ok to make mistakes!  Just read the biography of any famous inventor - every failure is a step closer to success – and yet we put down those in our community that falter.

My daughter was very distressed when our retail business that she had just started managing went unexpectedly into overdraft one month.  When I asked she knew exactly why. She’d purchased too much stock post-Christmas not realising this is when sales naturally decrease.  It cost us a bit of bank interest but what a valuable lesson.  It never happened again and she is now the first one to say “it’s ok to make mistakes.”

Perceptions can be both powerful and wrong.  Over 70% of secondary school students recently surveyed as part of the Operation Next Gen project believe that they need to leave their home town to pursue their chosen career path.  Sadly their parents are of a similar opinion.

Let’s set the record straight and open up minds to new possibilities. 

In this day and age of technology a whole range of new career opportunities are possible in a rural area if you are willing to create your own income. Family farms are now hosting a myriad of diverse business enterprises both agricultural and non-agricultural related.  Stores in town centres are changing purpose and old industries are being replaced by new.

We just have to remind ourselves to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes.

KERRY ANDERSON:  A businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria, Kerry Anderson is passionate about rural and regional Australia.  She works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace opportunities.