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Protesters shout slogans during an anti-austerity rally in Athens February 24, 2012. (YIORGOS KARAHALIS)
Protesters shout slogans during an anti-austerity rally in Athens February 24, 2012. (YIORGOS KARAHALIS)

Small Business Briefing

Greece must stop shunning entrepreneurs Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz

Three changes required in Greece

A new round of austerity "is meant to right the wrongs of decades of wasteful spending and make Greece a more competitive member of the developed world," entrepreneur Alex Christoforou writes in a post for Business Insider.

From his standpoint, competitiveness is created by through products and efficiencies, or by doing things on the cheap: "cheap labor, cheap costs, cheap prices." To avoid the ugly spiral of the latter scenario, he writes, the country's business owners need to create great products, but "over the last 20 years in its European journey, Greece forgot how to make stuff."

Mr. Christoforou claims the Greek state has rewarded cronyism and shunned entrepreneurs, but "If austerity is the medicine to bring costs under control, then entrepreneurship is the drug to bring growth back."

He lists the three basic structural changes required to achieve that goal:

  1. Lower social insurance and tax contributions.
  2. Create a better balance between employer and employee rights.
  3. Make it simple to start a company and close a company.

It's a long, hard, but ultimately necessary battle.

A great leap forward?

A post from the Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group caught our attention this week. Larry Trowbridge and Pat Stack were in the hotel construction and renovation industry and, they say, they had "seen their fair share of toilet overflow catastrophes and the resulting damage." They asked themselves: “Why don’t they make a toilet with an overflow?” So the founders of Penguin Toilets went out and did it. Mr. Trowbridge and Mr. Stack contracted and partnered with a manufacturer and the men now claim Penguin Toilets "can effectively save property owners millions of dollars in overflow damage each year."

Boost your sales with BRIC

The rapidly growing economies of the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India, and China - will be responsible for almost 50 percent of the increase in global GDP by 2020, according to Goldman Sachs. Together they make up more than a quarter of the planet’s land area and 40 percent of its population. The sales potential for small-business owners is enormous, and as Inc. points out in this story, if you've ever thought about going overseas, now's the time to look south. Castelmec is a New Jersey-based market expansion services company that's doing a good job helping companies tap into the region, and it has a roster of big clients including Sharp Electronics and HP. With Castelmec's help, Sharp has more than 650 local dealers for its copiers, and in one year in Brazil, HP's printer spare parts division went from about $200,000 (U.S.) in dealer sales to more than $3 million.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Global call for innovative Ontario tech firms

Senior executives representing carriers and IT companies from Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and the United States are seeking Ontario-based suppliers of innovative mobile content and applications, 4G and network technology, SaaS, cloud, cyber security and biometrics. At the invitation of the International Trade Branch, MEDI, telecom industry executives will be in Toronto on March 20 and in Ottawa on March 22, to meet with technology companies interested in exploring partnering and business opportunities. Space is limited and early application is recommended. Business-to-business meetings will only be available to pre-approved applicants.

How to spot opportunities and act on them

After working for job fairs as a volunteer and seeing so many chronically unemployed people ready to give up hope, Julie Austin decided it was time to put her entrepreneurial background to good use. Her Create Your Own Job webinars are designed to teach job seekers how to spot opportunities that others miss, and what to do with them once you find them. She combined her entrepreneurial experience and her job as a creativity and innovation trainer to create a simple formula that she claims "doesn’t require any money or business experience." Webinars take place every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (PT), and cost $59 (U.S.).

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

No love from the B.C. budget

In 2010, approximately 30 per cent of B.C.’s GDP was generated by small business, above the national average of 27 per cent. And small business was the source of 33 per cent of all wages paid to workers, which was the highest share of any province. So what were the highlights in last week's provincial budget? Not much for small business, columnist Tony Wilson writes.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Greek bookstore turned to crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is taking off as a way to use social media to raise money from the masses, Bryan Borzykowski wrote in April, 2011. On San Francisco-based IndieGoGo, for instance, a bookstore based in Greece sought $40,000 to help pay for renovations and new stock. With 20 days left on its six-week campaign, it had already brought in $15,387.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

Join The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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