Spanish entrepreneurship


Feliz Fiesta Nacional de España!

I’ve done a number of pieces on risk propensities in various cultures and countries and in honour of Spain’s National Day today, I thought I would venture into Spain. The festival actually celebrates one of the most famous entrepreneurial undertakings in history – the voyage of Christopher Columbus. It too was a monumental embrace of failure. A failure to find a route to the West Indies, but discovered in its place a new land that would have profound impact on world history in the centuries to pass.

With the Euro-Crisis, the ‘PIGS’ countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) would seem to have the embrace of failure well in hand. Unfortunately, it is the wrong kind of failure (sort of like the wrong kind of leaves on the rail lines). Perhaps that right kind of failure would have helped Spain to avert some of its current difficulties. And the right kind is the entrepreneurial kind that Hugh MacLeod describes in his post “Start-up culture is now the linch­pin of Wes­tern Civilization”…

  • “The limited-liability company was one of the great inventions of the modern era, limiting the exposure of founders to that which they put in. It is almost axiomatic that such legal protection is a necessity of modern business. After all, who would risk the life of entrepreneurship if, should their venture fail, they would become personally liable. Against that it may come as a surprise that Spain, Europe’s fourth-largest economy, has any entrepreneurs at all, for while Spain has a form of limited liability, as Gary Stewart found out, the limitations aren’t all that limited. Mr. Stewart is now the director of Telefónica’s Wayra incubator academy in Madrid, a project to help start-ups, but had been an entrepreneur. To his horror, his bank account was one day mysteriously emptied. ‘In Spain, sometimes it’s really hard to justify creating a start-up. Even if you believe in yourself and your project, it’s probable that your first intent will be a failure. And the Spanish government will hold you personally liable for many of the costs of that failure.’”