Global Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship in Ireland

Written by Scott Scheper for Gaebler Ventures

Irish entrepreneurship is on a roll. Find out why Irish entrepreneurs are so optimistic and how Ireland has emerged as a global leader in entrepreneurial spirit and resilience.

Young people in Ireland have a strong entrepreneurial spirit defined by a business background and the skills, knowledge, interest, support system, and financial means that help create the foundation for a successful business.

Entrepreneurship in Ireland

In short, Irish entrepreneurs do well because they start developing entrepreneurial skills at an early age, and consequently work hard to achieve their business goals.

A 2001 study by Goodbody Economic Consultants found that 7.2 percent of the Irish population was actively in the process of starting their own business. In 2004, that statistic rose to 7.7 percent, equivalent to Ireland having one in 13 working-age adults in a stage of entrepreneurial activity.

Yet the outlook for Irish entrepreneurs just seems to be getting better and better. The 2008 rate of early-stage entrepreneurial activity for Ireland ranked fourth worldwide for 18 to 34-year-olds, just behind the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. The 45 to 64 age group of new entrepreneurs ranked higher, however, in the other countries than in Ireland.

In the Goodbody study, Irish small business owners offered advice for would-be entrepreneurs:

  • Get independent advice and be willing to listen to it;
  • Think and act big;
  • Be as well financed as possible at the start;
  • Buy in experience, skills you don't have;
  • Work hard, recognize and accept the commitment required;
  • Be straight with people;
  • Get any necessary help and support required - don't hold back;
  • Try to stay one step ahead of the market, keep focused on the customer/ on
  • being different;
  • Take chances after due consideration/trust your gut instinct;
  • Develop or bring in HR skills;
  • Don't be deterred by failure but learn from it;
  • Be flexible, not everything will go to plan;
  • Have a variety of views represented on your Board; and
  • Recruit the best you can possibly afford.

A successful entrepreneur knows how to find a happy middle ground to balance between listening to advice and using your own gut instinct to solve entrepreneurial difficulties.

While you can do well in Ireland by following the advice above, here are three other things to think about.

1. Regional Differences

Entrepreneurship in Ireland is commonly influenced by regional differences, and individuals in certain areas often face problems related to improper access to markets, communication, business advice, and support from State agencies. Specialist support services can typically be found around the Dublin area, however.

2. Financing Can Be Difficult

Financing a new venture is a common problem that many entrepreneurs in Ireland encounter.

The reason behind this is the lack of risk capital in Ireland. Small start-ups do not get as much support from financial institutions as do large established firms or rapidly growing enterprises. There is less of a desire to take a risk in financing an enterprise at the start-up level, and most venture capitalists are interested in investments above 100,000 Euros.

Entrepreneurial support from the Irish government is evidenced through a world development leader called Enterprise Ireland.

As a State economic development agency, it focuses on increasing the country's business export sales and accelerating Irish enterprises capable of acquiring strong positions in global markets. These enterprises help lead to national and regional prosperity and purchasing power. It also helps in stimulating enterprises that can compete on international levels.

With 14 Irish offices and 34 international offices, Enterprise Ireland maintains a network of business development advisors. The services provided include business planning & information; research; development and design; production and operations; marketing and business development; human resource development; and finance for growth. Such support services are often provided especially for manufacturing and internationally traded sectors of entrepreneurship.

3. Finding Additional Help

County and City Enterprise Boards (CEB) in Ireland deal with entrepreneurs who are starting, or at the stage of expansion. Yet CEBs only assist micro-enterprises, or enterprises with fewer than 10 employees.

Local enterprise plans identify entrepreneur opportunities nearby, and promote job creation specific to a certain county. Their services also include promotion and development of enterprise culture, provision of business advice, information and mentoring, delivery of management training and development programs and grant aid and financial support for small business.

Scott Scheper is a venture finance enthusiast and serial entrepreneur hailing from Orange County, CA. Scott recently graduated from Chapman University where he was a Cheverton Fellow and graduated with honors in Finance, Management and Marketing.

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