Citizens of the world, companies of the world

Posted on 06. June 2014

by Laura Virué Escalera

Laura VirueIn the RondaForum event about education and entrepreneurship, I was involved in an informal debate reflecting on whether, despite belonging to a generation that has to deal with a difficult situation due to the financial crisis and a consequent sense of failure and neglect – a generation that has to carry the so pessimistic label of “lost” – European youth today plays with advantages due to certain aspects given by the times in which we live. The pessimistic adjectives used to describe our generation often make me think that we are at risk of losing the confidence in ourselves – a quality that in Spain was never very common indeed – and also blame the economic and social context for not venturing into our projects and ideas.

The obvious emergence of new business proposals, based on concepts of networking, collective buying, crowd funding, barter, etc., respond to a new set of business models, whose main field of activity is the internet. They can be considered as a chance, especially our generation can use to start a business, offering goods and services online in the concept of reaching out to a potential customer base which is not just local or national but international.

Internationalization is no longer just an option for the companies to cope with the crises and to access other markets in order to look for new business opportunities, nor a way to obtain financing abroad, but it is already in the very core of a lot of businesses. Being customers and entrepreneurs at the same time we live and experiment in a global market in our daily lives, already having taken the first step towards internationalization: an entrepreneurial culture that carries in its DNA the evidence of being and acting globally. We are workers and entrepreneurs who are not surprised by finding ourselves looking at customers outside our countries, since they, as we are ourselves, are used to purchase goods and services anywhere in the world.

This is very important in countries like Spain, which do not have a long grown export sector and, traditionally, had a domestic demand which has been sufficient enough to absorb the productive capacity.

As an entrepreneur it is a good idea to think on a global scheme, if not, the business is with high probability born predisposed to die; but just being born after the late eighties, travelling abroad from time to time and using our mobile devices is not going to make us and our companies more competitive neither in the local nor in the global market. Having success is difficult and requires a lot of work and a change of thought. Internationalization allows access to a greater volume of customers but also involves a larger number of competitors as well as particularities of markets, which means to consider the technical aspects of laws, payments, taxations, etc. For an entrepreneur to act and trade globally this means that running an international business doesn’t end by having a web page translated into a pair of languages.

Speaking languages however is fundamental as it is a requisite to become familiar with the rules of the game in the industry or service in which we want to work in internationally.

It is because of this that we should claim from our governments more facilities and support to incorporate in the educational system spaces to develop the skills needed on subjects more focused on doing business at universities and technical schools. At the same time we need to actively oppose to cuts in funding of international exchange programs and scholarships abroad. Programs like Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs are very useful to give young entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other countries. These international professional experiences help us learn from the expertise of those who successfully did business on a global scale and to make contacts, needed to work globally. A wider dissemination of these initiatives and a good management of greater funds are clear actions to consider as well as to press on the completion of the European Single Market to overcome the obstacles of doing cross border trade on our continent.

I am optimistic and I believe that it will be easier for our generation, and therefore, for our business projects if we embrace the need for change and the challenges ahead instead of letting the situation of unemployment and stagnation in which we seem to be stuck depress us. Being “lost” does not only translate as  to stand with your back against the wall, but to have plenty of choices, on your way to the business  you want to run.

Imagine to get up tomorrow and to see that we are not ”lost”, but instead are active all around, managing interesting projects, helping each other to meet and synergize by using our multiple connections and skills, we already have.