The Last Best Hope

While I was researching my book about BlackBerry I kept looking for and asking about employees of Research In Motion who had departed to start their own tech companies. Where will the next Mike Lazaridis come from if not from within RIM, I wondered? The feeling was that people were happy at RIM. In a growing company there is plenty of room to satisfy all urges, even those of entrepreneurship.

Recently, however, I have been hearing anecdotal evidence that RIM is beginning to spawn startups. That’s good. We need more RIMs in Canada; such companies create jobs.

What’s even more urgent is that we need a change of thinking in Canada. After all, there are two elements to a startup: the individual and the finances to get launched. The complaint has long been that governments offer too little funding for such individuals and while that may be true, most entrepreneurs get their startup money from family and friends, people who know them and believe in them.

What Canada lacks more than startup money is people who are willing to take a risk. We are far less entrepreneurial in nature than our American neighbours where “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is a far different motto than our more tepid “peace, order and good government.”

I have often wondered why it is that our immigrants seem so much different than those who end up in the U.S. given that the countries of origin are the same. I asked an immigrant recently if he could explain and he said: “If you want to make money, you go to the U.S.”

What we have is a process of self-selection. People who want to be coddled by the nanny state come here. People with more individual moxie go there. That has to stop. Canadians are lazy. We need to be more self-reliant rather than depend upon government to do everything.

A recent story I read about volunteerism in the U.S. noted that participation rates in the U.S. are higher than in any other country. The reason: Americans want to transform their society themselves rather than leave the job to government. Canadians could benefit from some of that thinking. We need new ideas, we need entrepreneurs who create personal wealth and jobs for others.

In 1995 I wrote a book called “The Last Best Hope: How to Start and Grow Your Own Business.” That theme remains true today.

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