By Terry L. Brock
Have you seen the new powerhouse economy of Europe? No, I’m not talking about “Old Europe” with their failed socialist systems of discouraging employment, hurting those that produce and providing cradle-to-grave nanny state care.
I’m talking about the new “Celtic Tiger” that is blossoming in the Emerald Isle---Ireland. I recently made a presentation in Dublin, Ireland and was excited to see what is happening there for their economy. More important I saw some interesting parallels in how you can build your business and your personal life applying some of the same principles.
Ireland used to be the place that people left. Potato famines, low job opportunities and more plagued the country for a long time. However, a few years back, some wise politicians decided to change all that. They did a few things to turn the country around and now Ireland is the #1 growth country in the European Community. Many American companies are basing their European operations there rather than in the high-regulation and high-tax environment of other countries. The result is strong growth for Ireland with no end in sight.
Here are some principles that Ireland adopted and that can help you in your business as well.
Ireland cut taxes dramatically. The top marginal tax bracket for corporations is now 12.5% in Ireland. That is the lowest in the EC.(European Community). As they dropped their taxes, they had more companies moving there as a base to take advantage of the chance to increase profitability. This meant more jobs and more prosperity for working people.
This same strategy can work for you in two ways: 1) Find places that you can do your work where taxes are lower. If you are earning based on your knowledge and not on some unique geographical feature (like so many knowledge workers today), you can operate from just about anywhere. Find those areas that provide you with the quality of life that allow you to keep what you earn and provide the overall quality that you want. 2) Lower costs as much as possible. It is incredible what can be done when we take a hard-nosed look at what expenses can be eliminated and pared back. This time of year is good to reexamine costs and find hidden areas for savings.
Ireland put emphasis on education. Ireland made a major move to provide free college-level and university-level training for citizens. This meant that there was no economic reason why someone wouldn’t go on for further education and training. The Irish have embraced higher education enthusiastically and, as predicted, more and better jobs are forth coming. The key to the future is in learning and education.
However, remember for yourself that it must be the right kind of training. Just getting a college degree in a subject that has no economic advantage is not necessarily the answer. Find a trade, a skill, a field of interest where there is a high market demand for the skills you’ll learn. I see so many that get degrees in areas where the market doesn’t care. This results in many with bachelor’s degrees returning home to live with Mom and Dad because the market doesn’t care about your degree in Underwater Basket Weaving. Skills like marketing, business, engineering, medicine and many others provide much more opportunities to pay the bills--- if that’s important to you.
If you’re hiring others continually train them. Help them to learn, grow, stretch their brains and become better. Some employers question me when I say that asking, “What if I train them and they leave?” That is a very good question. However, I would also like to ask, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?” You might consider providing a combined approach. Stress the importance of training and education and pay at least a portion of the further training. Continued education and learning are essential for success today both for counties and for individuals.
Ireland entered a new community. Ireland joined the European Union. They remain the only English-speaking country that uses the Euro. Having the common Euro as a means of exchange provides ease of movement of goods and services between the various countries. Much like the Constitution of the US changed the Articles of Confederation so that a common currency was used and spurred commerce, this has helped Ireland to reach a wide market. The Euro is the standard not only for Ireland but for much of Europe.
Yes, there are problems with the EU and I’m not suggesting that only by joining the EU will a country succeed. However, it is vital to have a community where you can plug into the needs, wants and desires of that community. Find others that you can help and serve. This is the way to succeed in business. It is ironic that we only succeed in business when we serve others. I love the way Zig Ziglar said it, “You can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Burn that into you mind personally, develop the skills to serve others, go the extra mile and you’ll succeed in your career. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
You know, another thing that impressed me was the confidence that the Irish people exhibited. While visiting, I learned a lot. Most of that learning occurs when you hear people share how they really feel, often over a pint of Guinness at the pub! In the past, the Irish felt like second-class citizens to the English. Now they feel more confident as their economy is growing stronger than that of the British. It is amazing the results that take place when years of feeling less than accepted are replaced, not with hype from a one-time seminar, but with serious results from increased knowledge, skills, stronger economy and better community.
Apply these principles to your own life and that of your company and you’ll see some amazing results. And while you’re at it, plan for a visit to the Emerald Isle to see for yourself what is happening. And don’t forget to sample a pint or two of their Irish-unique Guinness!
Terry Brock is a marketing coach who helps business owners market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their busy days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.
Copyright © 2005, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission. Permission granted to Biz Journals to use in regular publication.