More jobs is better than than more new start ups…

What Northern Ireland really needs, says Jeff Peel, is more new jobs in private industry, not just more new start ups:

Trade is good. Trade allows people to build business expertise. If people can build income by selling on eBay or at their local flea market – that’s good business.  Because business is only good or bad on the basis that it creates profit and provides sufficient return to its founders. But there is a received wisdom that creating a string of failed Internet businesses is some type of badge of honour.  I think a greater badge of honour is creating profitable business – regardless of how sexy or unsexy the business concept is.

There’s also a received wisdom that venture capital is the key to business success. It isn’t.  Often it merely sustains awful business ideas and allows business founders to have an inflated sense of achievement when they haven’t raised a single invoice.  And, unfortunately, far too many VC firms are sustained – almost completely – by tax-payer money.


  • aquifer

    Jeff touched on the matter of the limited supply of tech talent, but that is something that government can do something about, by sponsoring technical research, and heaven forbid, letting talented people in from other countries. Coherent and consistent local regulation to set long term timetables can also drive innovation. e.g. In pollution standards or energy.

    The trading issue is a big live one. It is very expensive to rent retail space and pay rates. There are few covered markets in a country that rains a lot, and a 9 to 5 culture is death to part time businesses.

    I don’t agree about Venture Capital. VC investors will probably get more for their money here than in the US where there really is more money than sense. Even if they leave their money behind, the local economy can win in terms of experience or even just the local employment created while the business almost succeeded. Maybe part of the trick for public backing for VC is insisting on good educational and experience outcomes locally, to have some chance of recycling talent and confidence back into the local economy.

  • Old Mortality

    I agree with Jeff Peel that there is too much emphasis on bribing people with no great apititude into starting technology businesses. However, he seems to be suggesting that any kind of business is good but some businesses are better than others: they are the ones that can sell goods and services outside NI. Just selling stuff to each other is of no benefit to an economy with a chronic external deficit.