I like small biz, I really do

My TJ column today followed a common theme on this blog – namely, the difference between small business owners and ‘entrepreneurs’. To some this is a semantic quibble, but if government policy is meant to create ‘entrepreneurs’ that are looking to grow neat ideas into national and even international businesses, it is vitally important to clearly differentiate the two. Read the column for my thoughts.

I have long said that one of the best ways to create entrepreneurs is to attract a few large, highly innovative multinational firms. When I put this forward before, it was hotly debated but I remained convinced that entrepeneurs are not born, they are incubated. Incubated in university research activities and incubated in large, inovative companies. As I said before, when you look at the bios of most successful entrepreneurs (certainly not all) there is almost always a stint at a large firm. They go in, they learn stuff and they get frustrated, leave and start their own business. Think Nortel. In New Brunswick, think Aliant. A good chunk of NB’s successful entrepreneurs did a stint there.

Now if you want to foster more barber shops, consulting firms, caulking contractors, corner stories, pet grooming companies, niche retailers, etc., keep on fostering ‘small business’.

But that, in my opinion, is another debate. I don’t even want to go there. Specifically, are more walmarts and less mom and pops better or worse for an economy. There are studies that show Walmart has driven down the cost of retail goods compared to mom and pops.

But you can debate that ad nauseum. That is not my point.

I am talking about the difference between mom and pops and entrepreneurs.