Being a sun shinning day outside I wasn’t quite sure if he was talking about the weather :) but of course he was talking in terms of the conditions and general atmosphere in Portugal to start and run a business. Here’s a brief overview of what I told him and what I think after having put some thought into it.
It’s hard to find and recruit good talented and ethical workers. It’s even harder to get them to stay with you in the long term. This “individualistic attitude” and aversion to risk was indeed pointed out in a report by the European Commission in 2006. Maybe the solution here is to recruit more foreigners that would like to live here?
2. Entrepreneur Support
The initiatives to support entrepreneurs pretty much boil down to strategic propaganda by the government and are extremely bureaucratic. They have to treat everyone the same way, it doesn’t matter if you’re starting a tech company or a hotdog booth.
3. Net 60/90
We have Net 60 or Net 90, payment 60 or 90 days after invoice date – the government and big corporations all seem to use this. That’s really bad for entrepreneurs because after a sale there’s still 2 to 3 months before getting any money into your account.
4. Not a big market for mergers and acquisitions
The likelihood of your business getting bought by “bigger fish” is very low. Can you list tech companies that were acquired or merged? There are no examples of successes so there is little incentive to try something like starting a startup to sell in the first years.
5. Universities are not entrepreneur oriented
The creation of startup companies is not adopted by the Universities as a priority and as a result most students finish their degree without never ever thinking about the possibility of starting their own company. It is something so remote that it is not even worth thinking about.
6. Anti-entrepreneur culture
Most of the older generations does not recognize any value in someone that takes the risk of starting a company or going self-employed. It’s simply not appreciated. A friend that runs a startup told me his mother didn’t believe he was working until she saw his name on the newspaper.
On the positive side,
the weather is very good. According to an article by BBC, “Its southerly latitude gives it a Mediterranean type of climate, similar to that of the state of California, but one where the summer heat is tempered by the Atlantic influence.”
and the food is great (we were having Sushi so I don’t think this point applied very well at the time). Portuguese food varies but fresh fish and shellfish are found commonly on every menu, and the country is full of specialty seafood restaurants.
Our taxes are still lower than most countries in Europe. The tax burden is at 36.2% for singles with no kids (I would say the typical entrepreneur) in Portugal, compared to e.g. 51.8% in Germany. (OECD, 2005 data)
4. Green Receipt Book
Although a plague for employees (because companies misuse them) , the green receipt book (Caderneta de Recibos Verdes) is actually a helpful measure for entrepreneurs because they allow to hire people with less costs on the first year of company operations.
The climate, beaches, lifestyle and leisure activities that attract companies, researchers and students to Portugal are also the mainstay of the country’s tourism industry, which accounts for more than 10 per cent of gross domestic product.
The amount of Hackers, Makers and Geeks in Portugal is growing and so is the number of group meetings that you can find. Many are held monthly or at least regularly.
this is of course far from being complete, accurate or even meaningful. I was careful enough to include a few positive points to counterpart for the negative ones. I didn’t want to be accused of pessimism, a point many would have listed here as well.