In an article that could equally apply to conferences of foreign aid “experts”, climate change “experts” and so on, Luke Johnson in the FT bemoans the preponderance of conferences on entrepreneurship run by those who have never been entrepreneurs.
Perhaps it is time to take back the word “entrepreneur”. In the past few years, an army of academics, politicians, think-tanks and consultants have created a frantic merry-go-round of conferences, summits, workshops and festivals devoted to entrepreneurship. There they all hold incessant debates, panels and talks about what can be done to create more entrepreneurs – and hence more jobs. We all know this is the way for the private sector to revive, generate taxes to pay down debt, and get our economies growing again.
The answers to these challenges are straightforward and well known. We need less red tape stifling business, more early-stage funding, and more mentors. Above all, more people need to start a business. That is really it.
Unfortunately, such a simple message would not provide the same level of publicity and fees for the various participants as the current circuit does. After all, attending symposiums is somewhat easier than working.
For example, I was last week invited to the grandly named fifth World Entrepreneurship Forum, to be held over four days next month in Lyon. Apparently, those attending would “hear the opinions of the world’s leading entrepreneurial figures”. I checked who was speaking at this amazing-sounding event – and almost all those listed were politicians or academics – none of them a leading figure in their field.
The problem with such “experts” talking about start-ups is that it is a little like virgins giving sex education lessons: they have never actually done it. …
The reality is that many of the so-called ‘experts’ are really just expert at getting on the conference circuit.