If you have ever observed the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, there are many common traits that emerge.
Having a vision and an ability to execute is a consistent trait, but this skill is often misunderstood. Successful entrepreneurs have to be creative, aggressive and challenge convention. This characteristic is not warmly embraced, often criticized and on P.E.I. almost universally vilified.
The burden of business success on P.E.I. is not one of celebration but often one of offence, and the pursuit of achievement not yet recognized as a worthy endeavor. This is a cultural deficit unique to our Island.
The black art of entrepreneurship has only recently been accepted in educational institutions. Traditionally those wishing to pursue self-employment could choose their vocation or school; the two paths unconnected.
Business has always been critical to our province’s development. Commerce helped establish our colony and merchants developed our economy. Today the structural strength of entrepreneurship is like plaster on the walls of a heritage building; hidden beneath layers of wallpapered services, bureaucracy and regulation.
A visible indicator of economic vitality is the local construction sector. We have an accomplished pedigree of Island developers who have made impact on our province, across our country and around the globe. Esteemed creators range from William Harris to Lemuel Owen, Owen Connolly and Wendell Barbour; to present day visionaries such as Johnston, Banks or our embraced adoptee Homburg.
Except for the exceptional, we have buffered our culture of risk-taking. We have become comfortable surrounded by our wallpaper of security.
Our economy developed from hewers of wood and drawers of water to forging captains of industry and leaders in shipbuilding. Somewhere we lost our vigor, perhaps when we declared bankruptcy as a province and ceded to the Confederation movement. Maybe our culture altered much later and perhaps it will take another bankruptcy to have us think more progressively.
Are regulations so restrictive that opportunities are lost through frustration? Why do municipalities place more weight on regulation enforcement than economic development? Have we built an industry on the wallpaper, and not on the plaster that holds our structure together?
My argument: perhaps we have lost perspective of the objective.
Taxation, restriction and burden is not a model on which to encourage the development of an economy. An economy needs development and entrepreneurship if it is to afford the services it has grown dependent upon. There is an undiscussed mutually dependent relationship between entrepreneurs and business with a functioning and compassionate society.
Lets consider a different lens. Celebrate the agitators who push convention and cause us to think critically. Embrace their creativity, optimism and innovation.
Regulation must be in place, of this there is no dispute, but energy will redirect to positive receptors. We must find better ways to effectively apply economic energy.
Blake Doyle is The Guardian's small business columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.