The Entrepreneurs Academy – Speaking to Labour Party “Think In”
On Monday last The Entrepreneurs Academy were invited to speak at the Labour Party “Think in” in Johnstown House Hotel, Enfield. The theme of the presentation was “job creation and growth” and The Entrepreneurs Academy was asked to outline the part we are playing in Ireland. I started by saying that 15 years ago I set up The Entrepreneurs Academy to provide practical training programmes to get people started up in their own business. 15 years later, getting people started and staying in business is still our primary goal.
We are an education business and we are entrepreneurial problem solvers. We design and deliver solutions for Agencies to get people started in business. Not only are we on the ground with entrepreneurs and start ups listening to their needs but we are also at the forefront of management education as we act as consultants to top European Business Schools advising them on their strategies and best practice.
I personally feel very passionate about the following points :-
• Self employment and running a business are extremely viable options for getting Ireland off it’s knees
• We have a huge number of great supports already in Ireland – this is good news
• The Entrepreneurs Academy are involved in the design of many job creation solutions – our success with our projects speaks for itself and more recently we are being paid based solely on our successes. We welcome this new approach the Government is adopting.
• We need to focus on what’s really working and weed out what isn’t.
Self employment and running a business are extremely viable options for getting Ireland off it’s knees
The recent OECD Report (Sept 2013) cites “..innovative startups as the greatest contributors to job creation” (Lawless, 2013, OECD, 2012a). Indeed with small and medium sized businesses making up over 99% of businesses in Ireland and accounting for almost 70% of people employed in the State, their importance cannot be stressed enough. Despite Ireland’s reputation as one of the world’s most globalised economies, 64% of private sector workers are employed by indigenous non-exporting firms, with 56% working for indigenous, non-exporting SMEs. (Dept Finance Budget 2013 Presentation, 2012). Entrepreneurs setting up one business have enormous ripple effects: not only are they creating a job for themselves and becoming role models for future entrepreneurs, they are in many cases reducing unemployment further by creating jobs for others. As a country we must continue to support small business and start-ups for future growth and job creation.
The Good News….Ireland already has a lot
The good news is that Ireland already has a lot on offer for start-ups. We have education/information, supports, facilities and finance and its relatively easy to start a business here compared with other European countries. We have incubators such as in the Universities and those not funded by Government such as Telefonica’s Wayra; we have education, advice, mentoring and networks offered by Enterprise Ireland, the County & City Enterprise Boards, New Frontiers in the Institutes of Technology, Springboard programmes, Momentum and others such as the NDRC and Vodafone’s Smartstart network….this list is by no means exhaustive, there is plenty more out there. There are online supports such as smallbusinesscan.com and financial supports such as Microfinance Ireland, BTWEA, Innovation vouchers, Funding through Incubators (New Frontiers funding; EI Competitive Start & Others; NDRC Launchpad), Business Angels, Venture capital……….and Banks.
We don’t have it all sorted and we don’t get it all right, but no country does. We’ve got to focus on the positives. Testament to what we have to offer Forbes cited Dublin as one of the best cities in the world to start a business in 2012 – and we’ve a lot more going on than just in Dublin!
The Entrepreneurs Academy’s Role
In our business we’ve designed and delivered many solutions for entrepreneurs to get them started and staying in business. We design and deliver Start Your Own Business Programmes for University Incubators and County & City Enterprise Boards (soon to be merged with the County Councils as LEOs) and we deliver Accelerate programmes with Enterprise Ireland and New Frontiers and with others such as Google and Vodafone designing initiatives to get start ups working smarter and bringing their businesses online. As well as having that very direct link and knowledge of what SMEs need we are also at the forefront of best practice business and management education worldwide. We act as consultants to some of Europe’s top Business Schools in relation to strategy and best practice.
One initiative we’ve worked on in 2012 has been the Momentum programme. Momentum is an initiative of the Dept of Education & Skills and is administered by FÁS. The aim of Momentum is to get 6,500 long term unemployed off the live register and into jobs. Over 30 providers such as QED were successful in the tendering process to deliver Momentum programmes and in each case, in a new step by Government, we are only being paid based on our successful outcomes.
In our particular programme we designed a programme not to get the Long term unemployed into jobs, but to get them setting up their own business and employing themselves. We took 90 people and designed a progamme for them that was much more than a training in-class programme to get them set up in business. Of the participants, 66% are male and almost 70% are over 35 years of age.
Participants trained on four networks in Dublin, Wicklow and Cork. The Success speaks for itself:
• The Entrepreneurs Academy received through the DSP Offices the full 90 targeted participants to train, mentor, coach, support and develop the skills that they need to set up and run a business
• After the 28 week intense programme only 5 participants had left the programme before completion
• 66 of the 85 remaining participants (78%) will receive FETAC certification at level 6 in Business Planning
• By October 2013 fifty+ new entrepreneurs will be trading businesses in the Irish economy with more to follow in the coming months, one is already looking to hire through the Jobs Plus programme
• Already, over 81% of the programme participants have set up their own business, are in jobs or are moving on to further education at Fetac Level 6 or Higher
• 100% of participants on this programme do not want to be on the live register; no participant believes they belong on the live register
• It is estimated that approximately 175 future jobs will be created within the next 3 years due to these new start-ups.
This is a success. It’s a success for each one of the participants on the programme, for the Government and for The Entrepreneurs Academy.
The next steps for growth and job creation are to focus on what is really working and strengthen and expand these initiatives and stop what is not working. Our Momentum programme is coming to an end and we are ready to take on more long term unemployed immediately and put them through our programme. We’re not chasing Government funds, we’re not interested in charity, we are a well established business with proven success that has a team that is passionate about helping others get set up in business and we are happy to be paid based on our success. The fact is, we won’t take on a programme unless we know we can make it a success. We look forward to the support from the current Government and future Governments to help entrepreneurs access programmes like ours….. because Ireland is a GREAT place to start a business and entrepreneurs will help get this country off its knees.