When economies are humming along, people take jobs in government and corporations enticed by attractive benefits, good pay and job security that are offered due to competition for good employees.
Depressed economies spark a climate for new business start-ups.
In times of high unemployment, layoffs and cutbacks in workforce training programs, the entrepreneurial spirit is marked by avidity. The unemployed and underemployed dip into their savings, borrow money from banks, family and friends, becoming entrepreneurs by necessity. “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression is when you lose your own,” president Harry Truman used to say.
A new study on job creation examines the current six-year recession in England. It finds that firms with fewer than 50 employees account for 34 percent of all new jobs, and startups during the recession add 33% of new jobs. Lord Young, a former secretary of trade and industry, concludes that creating jobs is best accomplished when government encourages small and start-up businesses.
More than half of the companies listed today on the New York Stock Exchange were founded during one of America’s 47 recessions since 1790, including General Electric, GM, IBM, Disney, Burger King, Microsoft, CNN and Apple.
Yet small business survival is precarious. Some 43,000 US small businesses filed for bankruptcy in 2008. More than 60,000 went under in 2009, not including personal bankruptcies.
Small businesses are often besieged by tight credit, lower consumer demand, costs of enforced regulations such as new health-insurance requirements, sales- and property-tax increases from struggling local governments and economic uncertainty.
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Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett is promising bureaucracy reforms to halt the emigration of entrepreneurs starting business in other countries. Yet, overall they suffer less than large corporations.
Israel suffered through many years of inflation and recession until 500 to 700 new start-ups each year created enough jobs to moor the economy. “Small businesses contributed more than 40 percent of salaried positions created for Israelis in the business sector between 2003 and 2010... in the business services, trade, hospitality and food services, and construction industries,” the Bank of Israel announced in March.
In a 2012 report for the mayor of New York and others, I argued for more programs enhancing economic sustainability.
Success is most guaranteed when immigrants land jobs or start businesses in their fields of expertise and experience – whether medicine or shoemaking. Four of the six recommendations in Not Coming to America: Why the US is Falling Behind in the Global Race for Talent address issues of economic integration directly.
Israel maintains a network for bemused and fledgling entrepreneurs other countries might emulate. Services range from lectures on basic business organization and development to sophisticated import-export assistance and financing. Here are just a few agencies: The Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority supports nine Small Business Development Centers. MATI is a one-stop shop with structured training programs, professional advice, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for financing.
Gvahim is an independent NGO established in 2006 leading the effort to make Israel’s “Brain Gain” succeed. It offers highly skilled olim and returning citizens from all over the world the proper tools, guidance, support, empathy and community for a successful professional and social aliya. Their methodology connects talents into the Israeli economy, society and culture. Their Hive, an incubator for entrepreneurs, connects established financiers, legal and business managers with newcomers.
The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute is a cooperative NGO funded by the government and corporations.
It “promotes Israeli goods and services, exports and trade relations, cooperation and strategic alliances with overseas companies” in technology industries and consumer goods.
Both the IEIC and the Israel-American Chamber of Commerce host seminars and conferences bringing together foreign business leaders and politicians expediting trade relations for Israeli businesses to overcome barriers to globalization. The IACC is focusing on cleantech, finance, oil and energy, real estate and visas .
The Israel offices of trade relations from European and American entities are overlooked or unknown to entrepreneurs.
EDI, for example, specializes in market research promoting trade development and strategic alliances, foreign direct investment and market penetration for the region covering Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, North Africa and the Persian Gulf. EDI arranges business meetings, networking and events. It represents select US states in Israel for introducing businesspeople to Israeli companies.
EDI CEO Sherwin Pomerantz specializes in aiding Israeli companies gain an edge tapping into US markets, garnering funds and tax benefits for opening some type of operation in states EDI represents.
My son balked at my hiring a tutor for one of his classes.
I explained to him it is common practice in business, only they are called consultants and have a lot more zeroes on their checks. Business is a complicated undertaking subject to the vagaries of forces beyond one’s making or control, so get all the advice and help you can.
Dr. Seuss knows the recipe for success: “A spirit of entrepreneurship is a useful tool to make money off making others feel cool,” but “You can’t wait around for things to happen to you; you have to go out and make your business dreams come true.”
Dr. Harold Goldmeier is the managing partner of Goldmeier Investments LLC and an instructor of business and social policy at the American Jewish University, Aardvark Israel, in Tel Aviv.
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